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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Albright Assures Netanyahu on Peace

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday she will give her strong personal attention to peacemaking in the Middle East.


Meeting at Blair House, the two former UN ambassadors reminisced about their past New York assignments and agreed that Arab-Israeli agreements should be based on reciprocity -- matching moves by the two sides.


Netanyahu told Albright that Israel has fulfilled the commitments it made in agreements with the Palestinians and the Arabs and he expects the Palestinians to reciprocate.


Specifically, Netanyahu called on the Palestinians to close their quasi-government offices in East Jerusalem and to combat terrorism, said Gadi Baltiansky, spokesman at the Israeli Embassy.


The White House is lowering expectations of a breakthrough in the Middle East peace process as Netanyahu visits President Bill Clinton to discuss ideas on reopening talks with Syria.


Albright was said to have assured Netanyahu in a warm and friendly meeting that she was committed to furthering peace in the Middle East and would give it much attention.


Netanyahu is the first of four Middle East leaders with appointments to see Clinton over the next month. The administration hopes to build on the momentum of January's Israeli-Palestinian agreement on Hebron for progress on an overall peace settlement.


Over the next month, Netanyahu will be followed to the White House by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Hussein of Jordan.


Syria was at the "top of the agenda" in Thursday's talks, Netanyahu spokesman Michael Stoltz said.


In the administration's view, a comprehensive settlement is impossible without Syria. Negotiations between Israel and Syria were suspended a year ago after a series of suicide bombings by Islamic militants in Israel.


Clinton and Netanyahu will exchange views on how to restart the Israeli-Syrian talks, said presidential spokesman Mike McCurry, "although I do not expect any major developments on that issue. There will have to be continuing dialogue with the parties in the region.''


Another administration official, describing Thursday's talks, said: "It's going to be big on concept. It's not breakthrough time. It's momentum time.''


Testifying on Capitol Hill this week, Albright said she would assure Netanyahu and the other Middle East leaders that America "will continue to stand with the peacemakers and against the bomb-throwers in this strategic region.''