U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro says President Barack Obama will bring an "urgent" peacemaking agenda to Israel on his upcoming visit, focusing on the region and the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Tuesday the White House announced that Obama will make it to Israel at the end of March, his first trip as U.S. president, as well as the West Bank and Jordan.
Speaking to Army Radio on Wednesday morning, Ambassador Shapiro said, "We have a very complex agenda about Iran, Syria and the need to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, so it's important to begin as fast as possible."
Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren told Haaretz that the visit is meant "to send a clear message to the entire region about the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship and the intent to strengthen this historic alliance still further at this challenging moment in the Middle East."
According to the White House official, "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 and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria."
"Additional details about the trip - including the dates of travel - will be released at a later time," the official said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that while he is in the region, Obama will also visit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan. He is currently due to be preceded by his new secretary of state, John Kerry, who is slated to travel to Israel, the PA and Egypt in about 10 days' time. But it's possible Kerry will delay his visit and come with Obama instead.
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