Washington does not agree that a settlement building freeze should be a precondition to the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, United States Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Tuesday morning in an interview with Army Radio.

He said that "the US has had the same policy for the past 40 years - against building settlements in the West Bank." However, he stressed that the US believes that direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, without preconditions, are the only way to resolve the conflict.

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Shapiro said during the interview that US President Barak Obama has been an extraordinarily good friend to Israel and that ties between the two countries were close.

Talking about the danger posed by the Iranian nuclear threat, the ambassador said,  "we are on the same page" and "working very closely together." Referring to the US president's speech at the UN General Assembly last week, he said, "Obama spoke in very moving terms about our understanding of the stress Israel faces and our understanding of Israel's security concerns."

Questioned about the US stance toward Turkey in light of recent events, Shapiro said, "we certainly don't agree with everything Erdogan says, but Turkey is an important ally, a NATO ally, just as Israel is an important ally. We would like to see Israel-Turkey relations return to what they once were, and we will help to return these ties." 

The ambassador closed the interview with a Jewish New Year greeting to everyone in Israel.

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