|Monday, 16 July 2012 12:53|
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel today for top-level talks with Israeli officials expected to focus on Iran\'s nuclear programme and the stalled peace process.
Clinton arrived on a flight from Egypt shortly after 11:30 pm (0200 IST) for her first visit to the Jewish state in nearly two years, according to an AFP correspondent travelling with the delegation.
With her are US Middle East envoy David Hale and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who represents Washington at the talks between world powers and Iran.
The whirlwind 24-hour visit comes at the tail end of an eight-nation tour spanning Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It will see Clinton holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
She will also meet with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, a senior State Department official travelling with the delegation said. Earlier this month, she held talks in Paris with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Talks with the Israelis were expected to take the form of a "strategic conversation" in the wake of the huge political upheaval sweeping the region and what it means for both the United States and Israel, the official said.
They were also likely to focus on efforts to regenerate peace negotiations.
"Obviously, every day that goes by where there is not a peace agreement is a day that leaves us unsatisfied," he told reporters travelling with the delegation.
During the morning, Clinton will meet first with Lieberman before holding talks with Peres.
A statement from the Israeli president\'s office said their meeting would focus on Israel\'s relations with Cairo in the wake of the election of the new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. It would also touch on peace talks with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear standoff.
During the afternoon, she will meet the Palestinian premier before sitting down with the Israeli defence minister.
In the evening she will have talks with Netanyahu, and a joint press conference is scheduled before her departure for the United States.