Biden and Netanyahu Discuss Peace Efforts, Defense in Call

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President Joe Biden discussed Middle East peace efforts and defense cooperation in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, ending a monthlong silence that fanned questions about the state of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“It was a good conversation,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with labor leaders.

Biden and Netanyahu Discuss Peace Efforts, Defense in Call

The delay in the two leaders speaking had prompted speculation that Biden -- who had already called more than a dozen other world leaders -- might be freezing out Netanyahu, who cultivated a close relationship with former President Donald Trump. But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied there was any intended slight, and announced earlier this week Biden’s call to Netanyahu would be the first to a leader in the region.

Biden “affirmed his personal history of steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and conveyed his intent to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation,” the White House said in a statement. And the new American leader voiced support for Israeli normalization agreements with Arab nations negotiated with the assistance of the Trump Administration, according to the White House.

Netanyahu, who next month faces his fourth election in two years, told reporters last week he wasn’t concerned about the delay in speaking with Biden by phone, and had no doubt that they would connect. The conversation lasted about an hour and also included a discussion of Iran policy and the coronavirus, according to a readout posted to Netanyahu’s Twitter account.

Biden has indicated a willingness to rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran brokered during the Obama administration, despite Netanyahu’s strong objections to the agreement. The president is expected to detail his foreign policy vision during an address to the Munich Security Conference on Friday.

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