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Pressed on Palestinian state, Netanyahu changes the subject – to Iran

Ahead of his Monday meeting with Obama, who supports a two-state solution, the Israeli prime minister wants to make Iran's nuclear ambitions the focus of regional diplomacy.

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In advance of his meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday, conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has engaged in a flurry of diplomacy with neighboring Arab leaders this week.

On Monday, he met with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, followed by a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II on Thursday, reportedly to express his intention to engage in talks with Palestinian leaders. Next week, he is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Just six weeks into his second term, Mr. Netanyahu has so far shown little interest in making concessions, and – most troubling to Arab leaders – he has not expressed support for a Palestinian state. He has instead cast Iranian nuclear ambitions as his nation's main concern and is expected to appeal for Mr. Obama's support on this issue during their forthcoming meeting.

The US shares Israel's concern about Iran, whose president has called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map."

Netanyahu has envisioned "unprecedented cooperation" between Israelis and Sunni Arab states – such as Egypt and Jordan, where he visited this week – to contain that threat.


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