Israeli PM to Meet Obama

WASHINGTON (RPRN) 5/18/2009–U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington Monday for the first time since each took office earlier this year. A top aide to Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday the prime minster plans to focus on stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, due to Israel’s concern about Iran’s progress toward nuclear military capability.

He and Mr. Obama will also discuss prospects for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Mr. Obama has said a two-state solution is central to his goal of a comprehensive Middle East peace.

Mr. Netanyahu has said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks should focus on economic aid and security instead of Palestinian statehood. He has not endorsed the concept of Palestinian statehood.

But Israeli President Shimon Peres says the prime minister will abide by agreements made by previous governments, which include a road map to peace based on a two-state solution.

Israeli officials confirmed Monday that Israel is moving ahead with a plan to expand a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, despite objections from the United States. The officials said contractors have permission to build 20 homes in the northern Maskiot settlement, and were given a tour of the site Sunday.

Mr. Netanyahu arrived in Washington early Sunday. He plans to meet Tuesday with members of the U.S. Congress.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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