Obama tells Netanyahu hopes to work on Arab-Israeli peace

LONDON Wed Apr 1, 2009 7:00pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his new government on Wednesday, telling him he hopes to work with him on Arab-Israeli peace efforts, the White House said.

Obama, in London for a G20 summit, reaffirmed his administration's "steadfast commitment" to Israeli security, the White House said. "The president said he looked forward to working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government to address issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Arab-Israeli peace."

The congratulatory call came amid controversy stirred when Israel's new ultranationalist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said Netanyahu's right-leaning government would not be bound by U.S.-backed understandings on a Palestinian state reached in 2007.

( Editing by Charles Dick)

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