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Trump to Host Netanyahu next Week as PM, Pompeo Warn of Iranian Aggression

Trump to Host Netanyahu next Week as PM, Pompeo Warn of Iranian Aggression

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019 - 19:30
Israeli PM Netanyahu receives US Secretary of State Pompeo in Tele Aviv in April 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

US President Donald Trump will receive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington next week, announced the White House Wednesday.

“The president and the prime minister will discuss their countries’ shared interests and actions in the Middle East during a working meeting on March 25,” the White House said in a statement. Trump will host Netanyahu at a dinner on Tuesday night.

The Israeli leader planned to visit Washington next week to address the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, two weeks before the Israeli election on April 9.

In Jerusalem, Netanyahu welcomed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks on bilateral ties and Iran’s hostile behavior.

They vowed to counter Iranian "aggression" as Netanyahu said Trump's pressure on Iran was already having an effect, referring to his withdrawal from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and the reimposition of sanctions.

"We need to increase it, we need to expand it, and together the United States and Israel are working in close coordination to roll back Iranian aggression in the region and around the world," the premier told journalists after Pompeo arrived.

Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria, where Tehran back Bashar Assad's regime.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes there against Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

"There is no limitation to our freedom of action, and we appreciate very much the fact that the United States backs up our actions as we do them," Netanyahu said.

Pompeo spoke of a Middle East conference in Warsaw last month that included Arab nations as well as Israel, saying the discussions involved efforts "to stop Iran's regional rampage" among other issues.

The US secretary of state also noted Iranian calls for Israel's destruction.

"With such threats a daily reality of Israeli life, we maintain our unparalleled commitment to Israel's security and firmly support your right to defend yourself," he said.

Pompeo and Netanyahu later attended a meeting in Jerusalem with leaders from Cyprus and Greece on the construction of a 2,000 km (1,243 mile) gas pipeline linking vast eastern Mediterranean gas resources to Europe through those countries and Italy at a cost of $7 billion.

Lebanon - Pompeo’s next stop - has warned its Mediterranean neighbors that the planned EastMed pipeline must not be allowed to violate its maritime borders.

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