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Shapiro: Obama Israel trip 'without precondition'

February 6, 2013 09:52

Obama to meet Israelis to discuss Iran, Syria, Palestinians, US envoy says, adding US president to "consult," not "interfere."

Netanyahu meets with Obama at White House

Netanyahu meets with Obama at White House_311. (photo credit:GPO)

US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Jerusalem - the first of its kind since he entered the White House in 2009 - will be without precondition, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Israel Radio on Wednesday morning.

Obama will discuss three main issues with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: restarting the peace process with the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear program and the civil war in Syria and the risks it poses to Israel, Shapiro told Israel Radio.

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"President Obama very much respects the Israeli political process," he said. "He won't intervene in elections or coalition talks, and he will arrive after a new government is formed. They agreed that the start of his second term and the new Israeli government will be a good time for him to come and renew the deep connection that is ongoing between Israel and the US."

Shapiro added that Obama is coming without preconditions, but rather as in the framework of consultation on all issues facing both Israel and the United States.

The trip is widely seen as an effort by Obama to kick-start a moribund peace process between Israelis and Palestinians amid other roiling regional concerns, such as the Arab Spring and the Iranian nuclear program. He came under a great deal of criticism for not visiting Israel during his first term, something that many believed would have reassured a jittery Israeli public of his support, even though he did visit countries nearby such as Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He was last in Israel as a presidential candidate in 2008.
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