U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night to express his regret over the remarks made against the Israeli premier this week in The Atlantic.
According to a senior Israeli official, Kerry said the remarks were unacceptable and emphasized that they do not represent the position of the U.S. government.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that Kerry asked Netanyahu to reduce the tensions in Jerusalem and refrain from provocative actions and statements, as well as to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Later, Kerry also spoke on the phone to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and expressed his concerns over the situation in Jerusalem. The secretary of state also asked Abbas to take steps to ease tensions. On Monday, Kerry will meet chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington.
On Thursday, an Israeli delegation arrived in Washington for diplomatic and security-related talks with senior officials at the White House. The discussion focused on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. The Israeli delegation is headed by Yossi Cohen, the national security adviser at the Prime Minister's Office, and includes senior officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Mossad, Military Intelligence, the Ministry of Defense and the Nuclear Energy Commission.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice hosted the delegation. Other U.S. officials who took part included CIA Director John Brennan, Under Secretary of State and head of the U.S. negotiating team with Iran Wendy R. Sherman, President Obama's senior adviser on the Middle East Philip Gordon, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and senior official from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury and the U.S. military.
National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. delegation "reaffirmed our commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The two sides discussed the ongoing diplomatic efforts of the P5+1 and EU to reach a comprehensive solution that peacefully and verifiably resolves the international community’s concerns with Iran’s program."
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Meehan added that "the delegations pledged to continue the unprecedented coordination between the United States and Israel as negotiations continue."