PM to travel to DC, may meet with Obama

Netanyahu to speak at AIPAC policy conference in March, may meet Obama for first time since September.

Netanyahu on the screen at AIPAC_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Netanyahu on the screen at AIPAC_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to Washington at the beginning of March to attend the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, and is also expected to meet with US President Barack Obama, his office announced Sunday.
While the prime minister usually travels to Washington for the annual AIPAC event, there was some doubt this year because President Shimon Peres will also be attending the conference, and it raises questions about who will get a meeting with Obama. It is unusual for the US president to meet separately with two Israeli leaders in the same week.
“There is reason to believe a meeting will be set up with President Obama,” a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The AIPAC conference runs from March 4 – 6.
The President’s Residence issued a statement two weeks ago saying Peres would be going to Washington for the AIPAC event, where he will be honored for his life’s work, and that he would also be holding a round of diplomatic meetings with senior US officials in Washington. Although there has not yet been any official announcement of a Peres- Obama meeting, sources in the President’s Residence said efforts were being made to coordinate a date.
Netanyahu last met with Obama in September, at the UN General Assembly where Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas formally applied for membership in the world body. Obama came out strongly against that move in his speech to the UN, widely considered his most pro-Israel speech since taking office.
In a related development, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was scheduled to leave early Monday morning for Washington where he is expected to meet this week with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first time since September 2010.
While Lieberman meets regularly with his European counterparts, he has not played a central role in Jerusalem’s relationship with Washington, which is being conducted primarily by Netanyahu and his office, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. This will be Lieberman’s fourth meeting with Clinton since he became foreign minister in 2009, and only his second visit to Washington.