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Netanyahu begins visit to US

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Netanyahu begins visit to US

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Washington amid hopes he may be ready to endorse a peace process leading to an independent Palestinian state. Speaking on Israeli TV, Netanyahu’s defence minister Ehud Barak said a regional deal could be struck within three years. So far Israel’s right-wing leader has been unwilling to discuss a two-state solution.

He is due to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday where Iran’s nuclear ambitions are expected to top Netanyahu’s agenda. But Obama, advocating the pursuit of a Palestinian state has pledged to make Middle East peace a top priority since taking office. Netanyahu has signalled that he considers halting what Israel regards to be Tehran’s push for nuclear weapons as more urgent than the pursuit of a peace accord with the Palestinians. America’s special envoy to the region, George Mitchell has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that peace talks will remain stagnant unless Israel’s new government commits to a two-state solution. Abbas is due in Washington for talks later this month.