After being forced to postpone their first face-to-face meeting because of the Afghanistan suicide bombings, US President Joe Biden is scheduled to host Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House on Friday, with Iran on the agenda.
Thursday’s Islamic State attack outside Kabul airport, which killed 13 US soldiers and 72 Afghans, occurred just hours before the Biden-Bennett meeting was originally scheduled.
But as the US death toll mounted, US and Israeli officials said the meeting had been called off and rescheduled for Friday. Israeli media reported the two leaders would meet at 10:25 a.m. eastern time (14:25 GMT) on Friday.
"Waving Palestinian flags and chanting against the occupation, the demonstrators on Thursday called on President Joe Biden to uphold his campaign promise to advance human rights globally."https://t.co/ZcwApBJphC
— Palestine Deep Dive (@PDeepdive) August 27, 2021
In a statement early on Friday, Bennett’s office said Biden called the Israeli premier and “thanked (him) for his understanding of the change in time of their meeting, in light of the events in Afghanistan”.
Bennett expressed his deepest condolences over the attacks and said Israel shared with the US in its sorrow.
Biden and Bennett’s meeting, the first since the two men took office, is aimed at resetting the tone of US-Israeli relations and finding common ground on Iran despite differences on how to deal with its nuclear program.
The two leaders will try to turn the page on years of tensions between Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was close to former US President Donald Trump, and the last Democratic administration led by Barack Obama with Biden as his vice president.
Naftali Bennett, the far-right Prime Minister of Israel, is desperate to refocus the Biden administration on regime change in Iran. After the collapse of the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan, Biden may be listening. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff. pic.twitter.com/JXinV4qpkG
— Mondoweiss (@Mondoweiss) August 26, 2021
Bennett, a far-right politician who ended Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister in June 2021, is expected to press Biden to harden his approach to Iran and halt negotiations aimed at reviving an international nuclear deal with Tehran that Trump abandoned.
Biden will tell Bennett that he shares Israel’s concern that Iran has expanded its nuclear program but remains committed for now to diplomacy with Tehran, a senior administration official said.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)