Oren: Obama visit will send powerful message

Shapiro: Renewal of talks a goal, but may not happen in one visit, adds Obama hopes to consult with Netanyahu, Abbas.

February 6, 2013 22:59
2 minute read.
Former Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren

Former Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren.. (photo credit: Hyungwon Kang / Reuters)


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US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel in March "sends a powerful message to the Middle East at a time of great uncertainty and upheaval throughout the region," Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren said on Wednesday on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown.

The visit will be the first of its kind since Obama entered the White House in 2009.

On the issue of potential peace talks, Oren said the White House has already made it "very clear that the purpose of the trip is to strengthen an already historic bond between Israel and the United States." 

"We're delighted that he's coming," Oren added. "President Obama was always welcome in Israel. He'll be received enthusiastically by the government of Israel, by the prime minister of Israel, by the people of Israel."

White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday that Obama will not bring a new peace plan to Israel on his visit. Carney stated the trip is not connected to any "specific" Middle East peace proposals between Israel and the Palestinians, adding that resuming direct negotiations is not the purpose of the visit.

What Obama does hope to do is engage in "deep consultation with key partners," US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Channel 10 on Wednesday.

Shapiro confirmed that peace talks would be on the agenda, alongside other "critical regional security issues," but emphasized that Obama is coming to Israel to meet the new Israeli government as a "consultation visit."

"The visit will be a good opportunity to reaffirm the strong and enduring bonds of friendship between Israel and the US," Shapiro stated.

The US ambassador emphasized that the most pressing issues facing the two countries were the Iranian nuclear program and the need to deal with the potential transfer of chemical weapons in Syria.

Like Carney, Shapiro stopped short of labeling direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel as the goal of the visit, emphasizing that "no doubt renewal of negotiations is still a goal, but it may not happen in the course of one visit."

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