palin meridor 224 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin met with Israel's ambassador to the United States during a campaign stop Monday, telling him she looks forward to working together and addressing mutual Israeli-US challenges.
The 35-minute meeting with Sallai Meridor covered the importance of the US-Israeli relationship, the challenge of Iran and the status of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, according to an embassy spokesman.
Referring to Iran, he said, "It's clear that she understands that it's a threat to the United States as well and not just Israel."
He described the encounter as "warm" and "friendly." The meeting was set to be followed by a phone conversation with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden after press time.
Palin's conversation with Meridor took place ahead of a rally in Leesburg, Virginia, a state that has traditionally voted Republican but which she and running mate John McCain are struggling to hold, according to polls which show Democrat Barack Obama with a significant advantage.
The campaign is also trying to sustain gains it had appeared to make with Jewish voters uncertain about Obama earlier in the race, but which recent polls have suggested evaporated over the last month. Analysts have attributed that apparent change in significant part to Palin, whose conservative stance on social issues and populist appeal doesn't sit well with many Jewish voters.
However, neither the US presidential campaign nor domestic Israeli politics was discussed during the closed meeting, according to those present. The embassy also denied reports from some Israeli media outlets that Israel did not want the conversation to be made public out of concern it might be seen as a political endorsement.
Instead, an embassy official said they didn't want to create an Israeli media storm by announcing the event ahead of time, but that the meeting was always expected to be made public by the Palin campaign after the fact. He also said that the meeting had been in the works for six weeks and officials had not wanted to announce a meeting only to see it not materialize. He said that the embassy had also long sought a meeting with Biden, but was told by the Obama campaign that they would only be able to schedule a phone call closer to the election.
Palin began by apologizing for the meeting's delay and then telling Meridor, "I look forward to hearing about your work with the Jewish Agency and all the plans that we have," she said.
Meridor headed the Jewish Agency before becoming US ambassador.
Palin was at first misquoted by the Associated Press as saying, "We look forward to ... working with your Jewish agency," which caused a minor media stir as she was lambasted for an apparent gaffe.
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