Trump invites Netanyahu to Washington for visit - White House

Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:19pm GMT

By Ayesha Rascoe and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington in early February during a phone call in which they discussed the importance of strengthening the U.S.-Israeli relationship, the White House said on Sunday.

In his first call with Netanyahu since taking office on Friday, Trump stressed his "unprecedented commitment to Israel's security."

"The president and the prime minister agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran," the White House said in a statement.

Trump also said peace between Israel and the Palestinians could only be negotiated between the two parties, but that the United States would work with Israel to achieve that goal.

Relations between Israel and the Obama administration ended on a contentious note, when the United States declined to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a halt to Israeli settlement-building.

The readout from the White House did not include any mention of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, an action that would likely spark anger in the Arab world.

Earlier on Sunday, the White House said it was only in the early stages of talks to fulfil Trump's campaign pledge to relocate the embassy.

"We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement. Aides said no announcement of an embassy move was imminent.   Continued...

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., January 11, 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 22, 2017 in a combination of file photos. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo
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