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Tags: netanyahu | obama | metting | Israel

News Blackout on Bibi/Obama Meeting

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 10:24 AM EST

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a lengthy meeting with US President Barack Obama Monday night which addressed the Middle East peace process, Iran and Israeli security.

The one-hour-and-forty-minute parley was accompanied by an unusual news blackout, as the standard photo op and press availability were not held. In addition, Netanyahu canceled a scheduled briefing with Israeli reporters and Defense Minister Ehud Barak scrapped plans for radio interviews following the talks.

Instead, both sides referred to a brief statement put out by the White House after the Monday evening meeting, about half of which was one-on-one and half of which included four members of staff on each side.

Barak, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, National Security Council head Uzi Arad and PMO adviser Yitzhak Molcho joined Netanyahu.

"The president reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel's security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues," said the White House readout. "The president and prime minister also discussed Iran and how to move forward on Middle East peace."

The White House deflected questions earlier in the day about why the Obama-Netanyahu meeting would be held without the usual TV cameras or statements to the media. In response, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs first said that "our schedule since late last week has been up in the air," as Obama has shifted his schedule to participate in Tuesday's memorial service in Fort Hood among other events.

Pressed on the issue, as it is highly unusual for the president to see an Israeli prime minister without any media presence, Gibbs said that "the President wanted to have a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. That's what we're doing."

He added, "The contents of the meeting generally seem to be well read out and I trust that this time will be no different."

However, after the leaders' evening conversation, the White House did not provide more information than its brief statement.

Earlier in the day, Obama met with about 60 senior representatives of Jewish federations following the cancellation of his appearance at the federations' conference Tuesday.

Speaking at a White House reception, Obama urged the group to address health care legislation making its way through Congress, a major priority of the president.

He also thanked them for the "countless hours of tzedakah [charity] performed every day of every week," according to a statement put out after the event by the Jewish Federations of North America.

Participants told The Jerusalem Post that Obama did not address the issue of Israel or the wider Middle East during his very short remarks, but that several members of the crowd raised the issue with him during his brief appearance in the room.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 10:24 AM
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