Obama and Netanyahu show solidarity on divisive issues
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and US President Barack Obama leave after holding a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, on the first day of Obama's three day trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. (AFP / Saul Loeb)
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday showed solidarity on the key issues that have stirred tensions between them in the past, AP reported.
On Obama's first trip to Israel since being elected U.S. president in 2008, he vowed he would do "what is necessary" to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, while Netanyahu promised that his newly-formed government would seek a two-state solution to the decades long dispute with the Palestinians.
The two leaders have previously been at odds over Israeli settlements and Iran's disputed nuclear programs. In May 2011, Netanyahu famously lectured Obama in front of the media in the Oval Office on Israel's right to defend itself.
But on Wednesday, while Obama continued to push for a diplomatic solution to Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions, he offered an explicit endorsement for Israel to take whatever unilateral measures it deems necessary to guard against the threat.
"Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action, and Israel is differently situated than the United States," he said.
"I would not expect that the prime minister would make a decision about his country's security and defer that to any another country any more than the United States would defer our decisions about what was important for our national security," he added.
Netanyahu backed Obama's efforts, saying he was "absolutely convinced" the U.S. is determined to prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons.
On the Palestinian-Israel conflict, Netanyahu said he was willing to set aside preconditions in future talks with the Palestinians, adding that it was time to "turn a page in our relations".
The pair stopped short of discussing Israeli settlement building and the status of Jerusalem but Obama promised to talk about peace efforts more expansively on Thursday during a speech to Israeli youth.
Obama also announced on Wednesday that the U.S. and Israel would start talks soon on a new, 10-year security cooperation package to replace one that expires in 2017.
Obama is set to make a quick trip to the West Bank on Thursday to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will then arrive in Jordan on Friday, a stop aimed at shoring up government reforms by the important U.S. ally and pledging American support in dealing with the 450,000 Syrian refugees that have flooded over the border.
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