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US-Israeli talks cover Syria, Iran

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli president Shimon Peres have discussed the need to halt Syrian violence as well as blocking Iran's potential production of nuclear weapons during talks in Jerusalem.

The meeting underlines US support for an ally in a difficult neighbourhood.

Mrs Clinton met president Peres for about an hour as part of what is perhaps her final visit to Israel as secretary of state, bringing a message of solidarity to the Jewish state after three-and-a-half years of only stunted progress toward a Palestinian peace deal.

After their visit, they each issued a statement to reporters without taking questions. Mr Peres spoke about the importance of maintaining Israel's three-decade peace with Egypt, and decried the violence in neighbouring Syria.

He also voiced support for the US administration's pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear activities - which has sometimes been a point of contention between a cautious US keen to give negotiations and sanctions time to work and an Israeli government that has threatened military action.

Mrs Clinton said she spoke with Peres about "Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran and other regional and global issues".

She said she would speak in greater detail later, after meetings with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad.

She returns to Washington on Tuesday, ending a 12-day, nine-country trip that included stops in Europe and Asia.

Her visit to Israel follows a weekend visit by US president Barack Obama's national security adviser Tom Donilon. Defence secretary Leon Panetta is also expected to visit Israel soon. Although Monday's agenda is designed to cover the breadth of US-Israeli relations, the lack of action on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be in the spotlight.

Negotiations have almost been non-existent for the duration of Obama's term in office. They resumed briefly two years ago before stumbling over the same set of problems, namely Palestinian demands for a freeze on Jewish settlements in lands they seek for their future state and an Israeli insistence on no preconditions for talks.


From Belfast Telegraph