Obama, Israel's Netanyahu hold fence-mending talks

Hi guys, today i want to share about Obama, Israel's Netanyahu hold fence-mending talks!. President Barack Obama voiced hope in a fence-mending meeting on Tuesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that direct Israeli-Palestinian talks would begin before a limited settlement moratorium ends in September.

Obama, Israel's Netanyahu hold fence-mending talks
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, July 6, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

"We expect proximity talks to lead to direct talks," Obama said as he and Netanyahu appeared before reporters in the Oval Office. The joint appearance was intended to display warmer relations after ties reached a low point in March in a feud over Israeli settlement expansion.

Netanyahu echoed Obama, who said he hoped direct negotiations would get under way "well before" a 10-month Israeli freeze on new housing starts in West Bank settlements expires in September.

Netanyahu has called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet him and move from the current U.S.-mediated "proximity talks" to face-to-face negotiations on Palestinian statehood.

It was "high time," Netanyahu said, to begin direct talks. Obama said he hoped confidence-building measures by both sides would help ease the way to such negotiations.

Palestinian leaders say the slow-moving indirect talks have not made enough progress to justify a return to direct negotiations suspended since late 2008.

A big question hanging over the fragile peace process is whether Netanyahu will extend the settlement expansion moratorium.

He agreed to the limited freeze only under pressure from Obama. Its extension could widen cracks in Netanyahu's governing coalition, dominated by pro-settler parties including his own.

It was a warmer White House welcome for Netanyahu than during his previous visit in March. As journalists filed into the Oval Office, the two leaders sat side-by-side, leaning toward each other, chatting and smiling.

In what was widely viewed as a snub, there was no photo-op for the Netanyahu at the March meeting amid U.S. anger over an announcement, during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joe Biden, of plans to build 1,600 more homes for Jews in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

The rare chill in relations has thawed recently with Obama shifting to a gentler tone and Netanyahu offering conciliatory gestures, including easing Israel's Gaza blockade after a deadly raid on an aid flotilla on May 31.

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