Obama reportedly conditions visit to Israel on diplomatic progress
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Obama reportedly conditions visit to Israel on diplomatic progress

Peres has sent informal invitation to US president; incoming secretary Kerry expected here soon

Barack Obama and Shimon Peres, during Peres' visit to the White House in June 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90)
Barack Obama and Shimon Peres, during Peres' visit to the White House in June 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90)

US President Barack Obama said he would be happy to visit Israel during his second term, but only if he sees diplomatic progress in the region, according to a Channel 10 report Sunday.

Obama came as a candidate in 2008 but has yet to visit Israel as president, instead sending high-level envoys in his place,

Israeli President Shimon Peres recently sent an informal invitation to Obama to visit sometime in 2013, specifically mentioning the Presidential Conference that is scheduled for June and his 90th birthday celebration, set for August.

Obama replied that he would be happy to come if there is a diplomatic reason to do so.

Candidate Obama visited Israel in July 2008, while campaigning for his first term in office.

In the last four decades, the only sitting US presidents to visit Israel were Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Obama was recently quoted as saying he was fed up with Netanyahu over settlement building, and feared that Israel under Netanyahu was not acting in its best interests. Netanyahu countered by saying only Israelis would determine where their best interests lie.

John Kerry, expected to be confirmed as the next US secretary of state, is slated to visit the area next month to try to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Army Radio last week.

According to Israeli officials, Kerry is expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority as early as next month.

Kerry said on Thursday that he would push to restart peace talks, and that “real results” and genuine progress were needed.

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