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US, Israel to hold first strategy consultations under Biden

Biden initially held Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at arm's length [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 March, 2021

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The US and Israel will hold their first consultations on strategic issues in the Middle East.

The United States and Israel will hold their first joint consultations on strategic issues in the Middle East since President Joe Biden took office, the White House said Wednesday.

Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will lead the virtual meeting along with Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat on Thursday, said Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the US National Security Council.

"The discussion will focus on regional issues, building on the close consultations between the two sides over the past several months," Horne said.

"This meeting is part of the broader ongoing dialogue between the United States and Israel on the full range of issues of importance to the bilateral relationship."

Biden initially held Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at arm's length, taking almost a month to call him after being inaugurated on January 20.

Keeping Netanyahu on hold was widely interpreted as Biden's way of signalling a reset in US-Mideast relations following the Donald Trump era.

One of Biden's priorities is to reengage with Iran over its nuclear industry, which Israel accuses Tehran of using to mask a covert weapons program.

This reversed Trump's decision - supported by Israel - to break contact with Iran and ramp up international sanctions, arguing that negotiations on ensuring that the nuclear activity has no military use were pointless.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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