Obama: 'unwavering' on Israel's security

By Jennifer Lipman, July 7, 2010
President Obama warned against singling Israel out

President Obama warned against singling Israel out

Benjamin Netanyahu received a warmer welcome in Washington as President Obama called for the resumption of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians within the next two months.

In a marked contrast to March’s frosty meeting, the president also assured that America “will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests."

The leaders spoke for nearly an hour and a half in the White House and posed together for photographs, before a joint press conference in which Mr Obama said he was “ready" to make his first presidential visit to Israel “any time."

Mr Obama said he hoped direct talks would take place before the end of a ten month construction freeze in the West Bank.

He said opening talks quickly would “create a climate in which everybody feels a greater investment in success.”

Mr Netanyahu repeated his promise that Israel was ready for direct talks. He said that there were concrete steps that could be taken “now - in the coming days, in the coming weeks - to move the peace process further along in a very robust way."

Mr Obama also said America remains “unwavering” in its commitment to Israel's security.

He said: "We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it's in, and the threats that are leveled against us - against it, that Israel has unique security requirements.”

"It's got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region.

In the meeting Mr Obama cautioned against singling out Israel at International Atomic Energy Agency talks in September.

He said otherwise a Middle East nuclear conference planned for 2012 was unlikely to go ahead.

Mr Netanyahu will follow his time in Washington with a policy speech in New York.

Last updated: 10:33am, July 7 2010