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Israel's Netanyahu heads to US for first Obama meeting

Latest update : 2009-05-17

Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in the US Sunday for his first meeting with President Barack Obama. But tensions could emerge between the two heads of state due to divergent views on Iran and the Palestinian territories.

AFP - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to Washington on Sunday for his first meeting with President Barack Obama amid divisions on Middle East peacemaking and Iran's nuclear bid.
The hawkish premier, who wants a "fresh" approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will unveil in the White House meeting on Monday his long-awaited policy for regional peace focused on countering Iran, aides have said.
But tensions have already surfaced between the two leaders as Netanyahu has refused to endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state, a bedrock principal of the US-backed peace efforts in the region.
The two were also set to discuss Iran's nuclear programme, which both Israel and the US suspect is aimed at developing an atomic bomb, a claim denied by Tehran.
Netanyahu has assigned top priority to halting Iran's nuclear bid.
Obama, however, has pledged to act vigorously to end the decades-old Middle East conflict and sees its resolution as a key component in a comprehensive regional policy for resolving the crisis with the Islamic republic.
Obama's decision to break away from his predecessor George W. Bush's tough approach to Iran by engaging the Islamist republic in talks to defuse the nuclear standoff has raised concern in Israel.
The Jewish state says the negotiations must be limited in time and accompanied by economic and diplomatic sanctions.
Netanyahu was also planned to hold talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and senior congressmen.

Date created : 2009-05-17