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Netanyahu turns down Obama meeting and cancels US trip

Netanyahu's decision to scrap the trip appeared to be motivated by reluctance to be perceived as interfering in U.S. presidential election campaign

Baku. 8 March. REPORT.AZ/ Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu turned down the offer of a meeting with president Barack Obama, prompting a sharp response from the White House, in the latest evidence of the tense relations between the two leaders, Report informs referring to the foreign media.

The abrupt decision by Netanyahu to cancel a visit to Washington later this month surprised US officials, who said they learned of the cancellation via the media.

The White House additionally disputed reports in the Israeli media that said Netanyahu cancelled the trip after the White House had been unable to find a date for a meeting that worked with Obama’s schedule, saying those suggestions were “false”.

The latest friction between Netanyahu and Obama – who have had a tense relationship, not least over the issue of Iran – came ahead of a visit by vice-president Joe Biden to Israel, when the issue of US military aid to the country is expected to be on the agenda.

Netanyahu had been expected to visit the US in March on a trip coinciding with a major pro-Israeli group’s annual summit.

The White House said Israel had proposed two dates for a meeting between the leaders and the US had offered to meet on one of those days.

Israel's Channel 10 TV, citing unnamed Israeli sources, said Netanyahu's decision to scrap the trip appeared to be motivated by reluctance to be perceived as interfering in the U.S. presidential election campaign, should any candidates seek to meet him in Washington.

Netanyahu also saw little to show for such a trip, given that the new defense Memorandum of Understanding is "far from being agreed yet," Channel 10 said. Several Israeli media quoted Israeli officials as saying that no appropriate time could be found for the meeting before Obama's departure for Cuba.

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