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US, Israel say Relations Good


Top U.S. and Israeli officials are downplaying perceived tensions between the two countries, following last week's closed meeting in Washington between President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod says Tuesday's talks between Mr. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama were a "working meeting among friends." He says there was "no snub (disrespect) intended ."

Mr. Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that Israel and the U.S. are "allies and friends" who can work out their differences.

He distanced himself from comments in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, where sources close to the prime minister said President Obama is a "disaster" for Israel.

The prime minister told the Cabinet the comments were "unacceptable."

Israel has rejected U.S. pressure to end construction of Jewish housing in East Jerusalem, occupied after a 1967 war, insisting that the entire city is its capital.

The U.S. is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and wants Israel to stop building 1,600 new settler homes in East Jerusalem. Israel announced the settlement expansion plan as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited the country this month.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital for a future state.

The divide has embroiled the two countries in what some diplomats describe as the worst crisis between Israel and the United States in decades.

The CNN television network says Alexerod's comments were recorded Saturday for a talk show that aired Sunday.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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