Obama, Netanyahu to meet at White House

Afternoon meeting to be closed to press in unusual choice when hosting allies.

March 23, 2010 10:00
Netanyahu at AIPAC

Netanyahu at AIPAC 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama is meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday at the White House — his first meeting with the Israeli leader since the recent spat over Israel's announcement of new housing construction for east Jerusalem.

However, the afternoon meeting will be closed to reporters, an unusual choice when hosting a close ally and a sign that suggested the rift may not be entirely healed.

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Obama has remained out of the fray as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other US officials have rebuked Israel for its announcement of new construction in Jerusalem, which came while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the country. It embarrassed Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel, and led to new stress in relations between Washington and its top Middle Eastern ally.

On Monday, Clinton and Netanyahu presented dueling positions on Jerusalem construction while simultaneously suggesting the incident is behind them.

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