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Clinton discusses Mideast hot spots with Israeli leaders

JERUSALEM — With Egypt unsettled, Syria in crisis and Iran's nuclear program raising widespread fears, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton conferred with Israeli leaders here Monday to reaffirm U.S. ties and allay anxieties about the changing dynamics in the region.

In her first trip to Israel since 2010 and probably her last as secretary of state, Clinton met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about a range of issues, the most pressing of which was probably Iran's nuclear program.

The discussions also touched on the dangers of the escalating civil war in neighboring Syria and other changes ushered in by last year's Arab Spring uprisings.

After a dinner with Netanyahu, Clinton said that she and the prime minister had continued "a very long, in-depth, ongoing consultation" about Iran.

"We know the sanctions are biting, and we talked about concrete steps we could take to keep building the pressure," she said.

She didn't specify what those steps might be, adding that the United States would prefer a diplomatic solution but would "use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Clinton and Netanyahu also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has stalled despite being a high priority of the Obama administration. Clinton said she reiterated to Netanyahu and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad the need for direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"The international community can help," she said. "But it is up to the parties to do the hard work for peace."

Clinton discusses Mideast hot spots with Israeli leaders 07/16/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:24am]

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