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Benjamin Netanyahu holds White House talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington yesterday for talks with President Obama aimed at defusing tensions between the two countries.

But they seemed no nearer to a resolution to the row over new Israeli settlements, especially in disputed East Jerusalem.

The hastily-arranged White House meeting, due today, would not have taken place at all but for Sunday's crucial healthcare vote in Congress, which led Mr Obama abruptly to cancel a foreign trip that would have seen him in Indonesia and Australia at the very moment Mr Netanyahu was in the US, to address the annual conference of AIPAC, the main pro-Israeli lobby group here.

That it has been scheduled is a sign of both sides' desire to end the worst crisis in decades in Israel's relations with the US.

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