Seeking to forge close ties with a crucial ally, US President Donald Trump today invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House as they spoke over phone and discussed ways to ensure security and stability in the Middle East.
The President emphasised on the importance the US places on US-Israel close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between the two countries, it said.
Trump and Netanyahu agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran, the White House said.
“The President affirmed his unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security and stressed that countering ISIL and other radical Islamic terrorist groups will be a priority for his Administration,” it said.
During the call, Trump emphasised that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between them and that the US will work closely with Israel to make progress towards that goal.
Trump invited Netanyahu to an early February meeting at the White House.
Netanyahu, in a statement released by his office, called the conversation “very warm”. He said he had “expressed his desire to work closely” with the administration, “with no daylight between” the two countries.
This was the first conversation between the two leaders after Trump was sworn in as the US President on Friday.
A day earlier, he spoke over phone with the Mexican and Canadian leaders.
Relations between Israel and the US were strained under former President Barack Obama and his administration abstained from a UN resolution in December that declared settlement construction in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank illegal.
But the White House statement on the call did not mention Trump’s suggestion to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump pledged during his campaign to move the US embassy, and his designated ambassador to Israel.
No country in the world has its Israel embassy in Jerusalem, which is also claimed by the Palestinians as their capital. While Congress long ago passed a resolution ordering the move, both Republican and Democratic presidents have repeatedly waived the order on national security grounds