After chilly White House response, Kerry says Netanyahu welcome to speak in US 'any time'

Top US diplomat reportedly agrees it was a "little unusual" to hear about invitation from House speaker's officer and not by usual means of diplomatic protocol.

January 22, 2015 03:26
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry. (photo credit: REUTERS)

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was welcome to give a speech at "any time" in the United States, hours after the White House expressed displeasure with the procedure behind a congressional invitation extended to the premier, AFP reported.

Earlier Wednesday, US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress on Iran without consulting US President Barack Obama, prompting the White House to question whether protocol had been violated.

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AFP cited Kerry, the top US diplomat, as agreeing that is was a "little unusual" to hear about the invitation from Boehner's officer and not by the usual means of diplomatic protocol.

Boehner told reporters he did not inform the White House of his plans to invite Netanyahu to the US until Wednesday morning. Neither did the prime minister's office.

Obama's press secretary said that typical protocol for the visit of a national figurehead had been breached somewhere along the way.

 "The protocol would suggest that the leader of one country would contact the leader of another country when he's traveling there. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol," said press secretary Josh Earnest.

An Israeli official told Reuters that Netanyahu, whose relationship with Obama has often been tense, was looking into the possibility of meeting with Obama when he comes to Washington to address a joint session of Congress on February 11.

The White House declined to comment on whether Obama will receive Netanyahu during his visit.

Meanwhile, the prime minister's office has not yet confirmed whether Netanyahu will accept Boehner's invitation.

Boehner announced the invitation the day after Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to veto Iran sanctions legislation being developed in Congress.

Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report.

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