Obama, Netanyahu tackle issues

May 18, 2009 2:53:50 PM PDT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he is ready to resume peace talks with the Palestinians immediately, but any agreement is contingent on their acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama met for more than two hours at the White House and focused on Mideast peace talks, Iran's nuclear program and the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

Obama said he expects a positive response from his diplomatic outreach to Iran on stopping its nuclear program by the end of the year.

The president said the United States wanted to bring Iran into the world community, but declared "we're not going to have talks forever."

At the same time, Obama said bluntly that it was important that Netanyahu, a hard-liner on peace negotiations with the Palestinians, get back to the negotiating table.

While his language was gentle, Obama's words were notable nonetheless for being made in public.

"We have seen progress stalled on this front, and I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure," Obama said.

"That means that all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations that they have previously agreed to."

Added Obama: "I think that there is no reason why we should not seize this opportunity and this moment."


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