Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (left) listens to US President Barack Obama during a meeting in March 2012
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (left) listens to US President Barack Obama during a meeting at the White House in March 2012. Israel is trying to thaw the frosty relationship between Netanyahu and the White House, and set up a meeting with Obama, according to a report in the Maariv daily. © Saul Loeb - AFP/File
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (left) listens to US President Barack Obama during a meeting in March 2012
AFP
Last updated: September 21, 2012

Top Israelis visit US to ease tensions

Israel is trying to thaw the frosty relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House, and set up a meeting with President Barack Obama, an Israeli newspaper said on Friday.

A report in the Maariv daily said National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror was in Washington and had been "meeting senior White House officials for the past two days in an attempt to reach certain understandings regarding the red lines that must be set for the Iranian nuclear programme."

Critics say that Netanyahu's repeated demands for Obama to set unambiguous "red lines" for Tehran have angered the White House and put the president on the spot in the runup to the US election and supplied ammunition for Republican hopeful Mitt Romney.

It also said Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak had met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, in a bid to send a calming message to the president and possibly seek a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month.

Israel public radio ran a similar report.

"This is not the first time that the defence minister has met with Emanuel in order to send messages to Obama," Maariv said.

Last week, an Israeli official said Obama would not receive Netanyahu in New York due to a busy schedule in a move widely viewed as a snub following rising tensions over how to handle the Iranian nuclear threat.

"The meeting, if it does take place in the end, may lead to a constructive dialogue between Israel and the United States regarding the red lines that should be set for Iran," an Israeli source told the paper.

Israel and much of the West believes Iran is seeking to build a weapons capability under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, which it says would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Israel, the Middle East's sole, albeit undeclared, nuclear power, has refused to rule out a military strike to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear capability, but Washington backs continued diplomatic pressure and says it is not the time for military action.

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