'Biden speech no compensation for Cairo'

Official: If Obama speaks to one side, why do you send the No. 2 to us?

March 4, 2010 04:34
1 minute read.
US President Barack Obama speaks at the University

obama pointing 311. (photo credit: AP)

US Vice President Joe Biden is important, but no substitute for President Barack Obama, and a speech he is expected to give next week during his stay in Israel should not be considered compensation for Obama’s speech to the Arab world in Cairo last June, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said on Wednesday.

Biden is expected to arrive on Monday afternoon, and to leave on Thursday, March 11. During the visit he is expected to meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzipi Livni, as well as go to Ramallah for meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

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Israeli officials said Biden was likely to deliver a high-profile diplomatic speech at Tel Aviv University, though US officials were not confirming any aspect of the schedule, which they said was still being formulated.

Obama has been criticized in Israel over the last few months for not accompanying his well publicized outreach to the Muslim and Arab world – he has visited Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt during his first year in office – with any significant attempt to conduct a dialogue with the Israeli public.

“If the president speaks to one side, why do you send the No. 2 to speak to us,” one official said. “He can’t give a speech in Cairo to the Arabs, and suffice with speaking to us through videos.”

The official was referring to videotaped messages Obama released to be played at a rally commemorating the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in November, and a Hannuka videotaped message released in December.

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