Netanyahu meets Obama in Washington

By Jessica Elgot, March 24, 2010
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Obama and Netanyahu met for private talks at the White House

Obama and Netanyahu met for private talks at the White House

US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have met for lengthy, private talks in the White House.

Mr Netanyahu, along with Defence Minister Ehud Barak, met Mr Obamafor a 90 minute discussion in the Oval Office.

But debate was reportedly so heated, that after the talks were due to conclude, both sides went their separate ways to seek advice from aides and after a short break Mr Netanyahu requested a further 35 minute meeting with the President.

No press conference was held afterwards and the two were not even photographed shaking hands. Mr Netanyahu’s spokesman would only say that “the atmosphere was good”.

The talks centred on the plan for 1,600 homes in east Jerusalem, the announcement of which caused widespread Palestinian rioting in Jerusalem and a freeze on indirect peace talks.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr Obama had urged Mr Netanyahu to make the first move and build confidence in the possibility of new talks with the Palestinians. Mr Netanyahu also reiterated that he will not cancel the plans to build in Ramat Shlomo, east Jerusalem.

Haaretz reported that the two men had not even been able to agree on a joint statement.

After the talks ended, Israeli political advisors Yitzhak Molcho, Ron Dermer and Nir Chefetz, and Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren continued talks with Mr Obama's aides, not leaving the White House until 2am.

President Obama had made clear how angry he was about the timing of the Israeli announcement but reiterated his support for Israel in a TV interview.

Mr Obama said: "Israel's one of our closest allies, and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away. But friends are going to disagree sometimes.”

Last updated: 2:23pm, March 25 2010