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Israel: Netanyahu dials Joe Biden says he spoke about COVID-19, Iran

The statement said the conversation was "warm and friendly" and lasted about an hour

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Benjamin Netanyahu | Joe Biden | israel

AP  |  Tel Aviv 

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel PM
The office of Netanyahu, who is facing a tough fight ahead of the March 23 election, was more descriptive.

US President and Israeli Prime Minister spoke by phone on Thursday after a month of silence that raised concerns in about a frostier relationship between the two allies.

Netanyahu's office was first to announce the conversation Wednesday night, releasing a photo of a smiling prime minister holding a phone to his ear. The statement said the conversation was warm and friendly and lasted about an hour.

We had a good conversation, Biden said during a brief exchange with reporters before the start of an Oval Office meeting with labor leaders.

The office of the prime minister, who is facing a tough fight ahead of the March 23 election, was more descriptive.

The two leaders noted their longstanding personal connection and said that they would work together to continue strengthening the steadfast alliance between and the U.S., said the statement.

Topics discussed, it added, included the Iranian threat of developing nuclear weapons, their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the desire to expand Israel's accords with Arab nations.

Israelis had been complaining since Biden's inauguration in January that the new president had not reached out to Netanyahu, concerned that the silence could forecast a chillier relationship between the two close allies after former President Donald Trump's warm embrace.

Netanyahu has long boasted of his close relations with American presidents and other world leaders. He's hoping to dissuade Biden from rejoining the Iranian nuclear deal, to which is strongly opposed.

Biden had been holding off calling Netanyahu, in part, because he first wanted to speak with key European allies as he weighs his next steps with Iran, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Many Israelis fear that Biden, who served as President Barack Obama's vice president, will revive his approach to the region, both by returning to the Iran deal and by pressing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

During last year's presidential campaign, Biden criticized Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran accord. But the new president publicly has insisted that Iran adhere to its commitment under the 2015 pact before his administration engage Tehran on potentially lifting Trump-imposed sanctions.

The United States is Israel's closest ally, providing about $3.8 billion in annual military aid and shielding it from censure in forums over its policies toward the Palestinians.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, February 18 2021. 07:06 IST
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