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US, Israeli officials meet amid rising concern over Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman met for talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington Tuesday amid speculation that Israel is considering a military solution to international concerns over Iran's nuclear programme.

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AFP - Israel's outspoken Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman met Tuesday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton amid high tensions with Iran and a stalemate in the Middle East peace process.

Iran's parliament on Tuesday announced that it will summon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to answer questions on his policy decisions, the first time a president has been called to account since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Ahmadinejad faces a list of questions about the state of Iran's economy, foreign policy and his handling of domestic matters.

Iran's legislature has threatened to grill him in the past but has not followed through. Under Iranian law, the president must appear in parliament within a month of receiving the summons later this week.

Lieberman and Clinton chatted about the weather in a brief photo opportunity before their meeting at the State Department. They did not speak to reporters.

The Israeli foreign minister is also meeting with members of the US Congress during his visit, which comes as Western nations and Israel voice fear that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

Israel's Maariv newspaper said Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned his officials to stop "blabbing" about the possibility of the Jewish state attacking Iran.

The United States and the European Union have both been ramping up economic pressure on Iran, which insists -- to Western skepticism -- that its sensitive nuclear work is for peaceful purposes.

Lieberman's visit comes a day after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas signed a deal with the Islamist movement Hamas to end a longstanding rift between the two main Palestinian groups.

Netanyahu denounced the deal brokered by Qatar, warning that Abbas must choose between making peace with Hamas and with Israel.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was more nuanced, saying Monday that reconciliation was an internal Palestinian matter but that a Palestinian government must clearly commit to non-violence and recognize Israel.

Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since September 2010 despite periodic US attempts to revive them.

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