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Netanyahu. Will be absent
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Jones. No decision on new Mideast plan
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US says relationship with Israel 'fine'
National Security Advisor Jim Jones tells reporters Obama administration believes Jewish state's delegation to next week's nuclear security summit in Washington will be 'robust,' despite Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision not to attend

US President Barack Obama's administration believes Israel's delegation to next week's nuclear security summit in Washington will be "robust," despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision not to attend, a top official said on Friday.

 

"We obviously would like to have the prime minister but the deputy prime minister will be leading the delegation and it will be a robust Israeli delegation," US National Security Advisor General Jim Jones told reporters on Air Force One while returning with Obama from Prague where the president signed a nuclear arms limit agreement with Russia.

 

Jones said the relationship between the US and Israel is "ongoing and fine and continuous."

 

Netanyahu withdrew from the summit, fearing Muslim powers would use it to demand that Israel give up its presumed nuclear arsenal.

 

The prime minister decided to cancel "after learning that some countries including Egypt and Turkey plan to say Israel must sign the NPT," an Israeli official said on Friday.

 

By staying outside the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel has avoided having to pledge not to seek nuclear weaponry and to admit international inspectors to its Dimona reactor, widely assumed to have fueled the region's sole atomic arsenal.

 

Jones said the administration had made no decision on a new Middle East peace strategy, although he said there had been a meeting on the issue involving former national security advisers.

 

"We have not taken any decisions to jumpstart any dramatic shift in our strategy," Jones said.

"I think we should say, to make clear, that we don't intend to surprise anybody at any time."

 

Jones said the United States remains committed to "our unqualified pledge" to Israel's security, as well as to "the emergence of a new Palestinian state that has legitimate claims on sovereignty."

 

"We will be a full-time player and we will do everything we can to bring this about so that all sides are satisfied," he said.

 

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