Biden to meet Netanyahu during Sharon funeral visit
Israeli honour guards carry the coffin of former prime minister Ariel Sharon in to the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem at the end of the day on January 12, 2014 as Israelis came to pay their respects. [AFP]
Click here to add Ariel Sharon as an alert
Disable alert for Ariel Sharon,
Click here to add Binyamin Netanyahu as an alert
Disable alert for Binyamin Netanyahu,
Click here to add Debbie Wasserman Schultz as an alert
Disable alert for Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
Click here to add Department of State as an alert
Disable alert for Department of State,
Click here to add Eliot Engel as an alert
Disable alert for Eliot Engel,
Click here to add European Union as an alert
Disable alert for European Union,
Click here to add Gaza as an alert
Disable alert for Gaza,
Click here to add Israeli Knesset as an alert
Disable alert for Israeli Knesset,
Click here to add Jake Sullivan as an alert
Disable alert for Jake Sullivan,
Click here to add Joe Biden as an alert
Disable alert for Joe Biden,
Click here to add John Kerry as an alert
Disable alert for John Kerry,
Click here to add Lily as an alert
Disable alert for Lily,
Click here to add Los Angeles Times as an alert
Disable alert for Los Angeles Times,
Click here to add Maher Bitar as an alert
Disable alert for Maher Bitar,
Click here to add Middle East Quartet as an alert
Disable alert for Middle East Quartet,
Click here to add Shimon Peres as an alert
Disable alert for Shimon Peres,
Click here to add State Duma as an alert
Disable alert for State Duma,
Click here to add United Nations as an alert
Disable alert for United Nations,
Click here to add Washington as an alert
Disable alert for Washington,
Click here to add White House as an alert
Disable alert for White House
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will meet Israel's prime minister and president while in Israel for ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's funeral, Biden's office said.
His meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres are intended to advance U.S. Middle East peace efforts and ease Israeli concerns about international diplomacy intended to end Iran's atomic weapons threat, officials said.
Biden, in his second visit to Israel as vice president, is leading the official U.S. delegation, which also includes U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro; Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and former Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, the White House said.
Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks at the state funeral at the Israeli Knesset, or Parliament, at 9:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. EST) and attend Sharon's military burial service at his desert sheep ranch in southern Israel near Sderot, less than a mile from the Palestinian city of Gaza, at 2 p.m.
Sharon -- a former major general, as well as defense minister and foreign minister -- will be buried next to his second wife, Lily, Israeli officials said.
Biden is scheduled to return to the United States Monday evening.
Sharon, 85, died Saturday after eight years in a coma caused by a severe stroke in 2006 from which he never recovered.
He is widely seen as one of the most influential figures in Israeli history.
Biden's meetings with Netanyahu and Peres follow U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's sometimes-strained Middle East shuttle diplomacy seeking to revitalize talks between Israelis and Palestinians toward reaching a two-state solution that envisages an independent Palestine alongside Israel.
"Anytime that you have a leader from the United States as significant as Vice President Biden sitting down with the prime minister of Israel, which Vice President Biden will be doing while we're here, there's an opportunity for progress," Wasserman Schultz told reporters traveling with the delegation on Biden's plane from Washington.
"Every time there is an opportunity for progress, for the United States to be in a position to help Israel in the cause of crafting and finalizing a two-state solution, we take that opportunity," she said in remarks quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
Also traveling with the delegation are Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan and State Department special Middle East peace envoy Maher Bitar.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is special envoy for the so-called Middle East Quartet involved in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, is also scheduled to attend Sharon's funeral.
The quartet includes the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
There were no reports of whether Blair would also meet with Netanyahu, Peres or any other Israeli officials.
Additional current and former government officials scheduled to be at the funeral include the Austrian president and foreign minister, the Czech prime minister and defense minister, the foreign ministers of Germany and Australia, the Greek and Cypriot defense ministers, the chairman of Russia's State Duma, or lower legislative chamber, and ministers and deputy ministers from Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Romania and Singapore.
- Turkish Prime Minister Meets U.S. Vice President in Washington
- US dismisses Netanyahu call for credible military threat on Iran
- Arab ministers to boycott Peres during meeting of European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers
- Sharon to Highlight '\'Terrorist Threats'\' to Israel, US During Meeting with Bush
- US envoy meets with Netanyahu