WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama assured a top Israeli official on Monday that the United States has an unshakable commitment to Israel's security, despite recent tension over Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want for the capital of a future state.
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was at the White House for a meeting with the US national security adviser, Gen. James Jones. Gibbs says Obama told Barak he is determined to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Last June Obama also joined a meeting between Barak and Jones, during which the president pressured the defense minister to work towards freezing settlement construction in the West Bank.
Monday's meeting with Obama and Jones was the first in a series of meetings Barak is scheduled to hold with administration officials. The talks are expected to focus on the Iranian nuclear threats, the developments in Lebanon and Syria and the stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
On Tuesday Barak is set to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Earlier Monday, Obama spoke with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about the Mideast peace process.