World News

Obama to Make First Visit to Israel as President

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to make his first presidential visit to Israel, and will also go to the West Bank and Jordan.

The White House said the topics of discussion will be wide-ranging and are to include Syria and Iran. The date of the trip has not been announced.

Spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the visit during a phone conversation in late January.

Carney said the start of the president's second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel. He said they also offer a chance to discuss the way forward on a range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria.

The spokesman said President Obama will work with Palestinian Authority and Jordanian officials on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest.

President Obama and White House officials have frequently described the U.S.-Israel relationship as stronger than ever. But Mr. Obama's relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu has been described as difficult and tense.

In 2008, Mr. Obama visited Israel and the West Bank while a candidate for president, pledging to protect Israel and prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

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