US President Donald Trump invites Israeli PM Netanyahu to White House

Washington: On Monday, US President Donald Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House early next month, working quickly to establish close ties with a crucial ally in the Middle East who was often at odds with his predecessor.

As the Trump administration took steps toward relocating the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, Trump, on his second full day in office, spoke over phone to Netanyahu and discussed ways to ensure security and stability in the Middle East.

The President emphasised on the importance the US places on US-Israel close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between the two countries, it said.

The two leaders discussed efforts to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Trump and Netanyahu agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran, the White House said.

 US President Donald Trump invites Israeli PM Netanyahu to White House

Netanyahu. AP

During the call, Trump invited Netanyahu "to an early February meeting at the White House".

"The President affirmed his unprecedented commitment to Israel's security and stressed that countering ISIL and other radical Islamic terrorist groups will be a priority for his Administration," it said.

During the call, Trump emphasised that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between them and that the US will work closely with Israel to make progress towards that goal.

Netanyahu, in a statement released by his office, called the conversation "very warm". He said he had "expressed his desire to work closely" with the administration, "with no daylight between" the two countries.

This was the first conversation between the two leaders after Trump was sworn in as the US President on Friday.

A day earlier, he spoke over phone with the Mexican and Canadian leaders.

Relations between Israel and the US were strained under former President Barack Obama and his administration abstained from a UN resolution in December that declared settlement construction in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank illegal.

But the White House statement on the call did not mention Trump's suggestion to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump pledged during his campaign to move the US embassy, and his designated ambassador to Israel.

No country in the world has its Israel embassy in Jerusalem, which is also claimed by the Palestinians as their capital. While Congress long ago passed a resolution ordering the move, both Republican and Democratic presidents have repeatedly waived the order on national security grounds.

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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2017 17:47:02 IST