Peres leaves for US to consult with Obama on ME turmoil

Two leaders to discuss US-Israel security cooperation, prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, GIL STERN STERN
April 2, 2011 23:15
2 minute read.
Peres

Peres 311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

WASHINGTON – President Shimon Peres is due to leave for Washington Sunday night and is due to arrive in the US Monday for a multi-day trip to Washington and New York that will include a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Ostensibly in the US to address the American Israeli Political Activity Committee Conference, Peres will have a working lunch with Obama on Tuesday. They are expected to address US-Israel security cooperation, the new Middle East dynamics giving the popular protests throughout the region, and the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

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Obama last hosted Peres at the White House in 2009.

A statement released by the White House Press secretary last Thursday noted that Obama was looking forward to discussing with Peres “the full range of issues of common concern, including US-Israeli security cooperation, recent developments across the Middle East, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and its neighbors.” The consensus among political pundits in Israel is that Peres is paving the way for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu whose previous meetings with Obama have not been exactly fruitful. It is thought that Israel’s elder statesman might be more effective in explaining Israel’s position to Obama than Netanyahu, his eloquence notwithstanding, has been to date.

Peres is also expected to urge the United States to take a tougher stand on Iran and take a more realistic look at developments in Gaza.

Peres is also scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and leading members of Congress before departing for New York on Wednesday.

While political issues will be at the forefront of their talks, it is anticipated that other important matters such as securing the release of Gilad Schalit from Hamas captivity and Jonathan Pollard from US captivity will be raised by Peres.

Pollard’s wife Esther wrote Peres on Friday requesting an urgent meeting with him ahead of his departure to Washington on Sunday to see US President Barack Obama.

Esther Pollard said she needed no more than five minutes with Peres, who was prime minister at the time of her husband’s arrest more than 25 years ago, but that she desperately needed to deliver him an urgent message.

“Jonathan has asked me to personally deliver a private message from him before you leave to meet with the president of the United States,” Esther wrote Peres.

As well, in the context of this meeting I would like to update you on Jonathan’s medical condition.”

Esther Pollard is expected to urge Peres to ask Obama to commute her husband’s life sentence ahead of Pessah, a holiday that celebrates freedom.

Peres has made no public comments about Pollard recently despite a wave of endorsements for his release from top Israeli and American public officials, including Netanyahu and former American presidential candidate John McCain.


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