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Netanyahu to visit US on Sunday, Mideast peace talks to be focus

Israel Materials 6 November 2010 19:00 (UTC +04:00)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to arrive in the United States on Sunday to address a conference of Jewish leaders and meet with US leaders to discuss the Middle East peace process, DPA reported.
Netanyahu to visit US on Sunday, Mideast peace talks to be focus

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to arrive in the United States on Sunday to address a conference of Jewish leaders and meet with US leaders to discuss the Middle East peace process, DPA reported.

Netanyahu is scheduled to give a speech at the Annual North American Jewish Conference in New Orleans.

Earlier in the week he told the Israeli parliament he would also meet Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to hold talks over peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The premier's office could not confirm the place and date of the meetings with Biden and Clinton, but said they were likely to be held in New York, where Netanyahu plans to stay for four days.

Netanyahu will not meet President Barack Obama, who is on an official visit to Asia.

The talks with the US administration over the Middle East peace process come after electoral gains last week by Republicans, traditionally more sympathetic to Israel.

Although Israel enjoys broad support across both parties, Republicans are seen as taking a more hardline approach.

US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said Friday the Obama administration still viewed the peace process as a "priority" and would work with Congress to advance the direct negotiations.

The Israeli government is hopeful that a Republican majority House in January will be able to alleviate the pressure President Barack Obama has placed on Israel to negotiate peace with the Palestinians and place a freeze on settlement expansions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Direct peace talks have been frozen since September 26, when the 10-month Israeli moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank expired.

The Palestinian government has said that it would not continue with the direct talks unless Netanyahu agreed to extend the freeze.

Obama's administration has also asked Israel to extend the moratorium but the Israeli government has so far failed to present any proposal.

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