In a break with diplomatic custom, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netinyahu held closed-door talks at the White House yesterday in an attempt to smooth US-Israeli relations. Unusually for a state visit, reporters were not invited to see the pair shake hands and begin their talks and no photographers or television crews gained access. This move is seen as indicative of the crisis complicating things between the two countries following Israel’s announcement two weeks ago during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden that it was planning to build 1,600 new apartments in disputed East Jerusalem. Palestine, which claims east Jerusalem as its future capital, has since delayed new US-sponsored peace talks over Israel’s actions. Obama and Netanyahu reportedly talked initially for 90 minutes in the Oval Office. Netanyahu then asked for a second meeting slightly later in the day and he and the President talked for a further 35 minutes. The White House has not issued any information about what was talked about and Israeli officials also declined to comment.
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