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Biden to visit Israel soon, White House says after call with PM Naftali Bennett

Biden to visit Israel soon, White House says after call with PM Naftali Bennett
President Joe Biden R) will visit Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Israel in the coming months. Pool File Photo by Sarahbeth Maney/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Joe Biden agreed during a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to visit the Middle Eastern country in the coming months, both governments have confirmed.

The phone call between the two leaders was held Sunday amid a renewed push to restart negotiations with Iran on a new nuclear deal and spiking violence in Israel.

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The offices' of both world leaders confirmed that Biden had accepted the invitation from Bennett with neither divulging other details about the visit other than it would occur "in the coming months."

The pair discussed "shared regional and global security challenges including the threat posed by Iran and its proxies," the White House said in a readout of the call.

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The conversation follows Bennett visiting Washington, D.C., in late August, months after he was elected prime minister.

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During that visit, Iran was "the main issue" of discussion, Biden had said during a joint press conference with Bennett.

The phone call included a review of steps to deter and contains Iran's destabilizing actions, and the leaders reiterated their commitments to deepen cooperation to address "all aspects of Israel's security against Iran and other threats," the White House said.

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The brief statement from Bennett's office said the two specifically discussed Iran's demand for its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from the State Department's U.S. Foreign Terror Organization list, on which it was added by the Trump administration in 2019.

"I'm sure @POTUS Biden -- who is a true friend of Israel and cares about its security -- will not allow the IRGC to be removed from the list of terrorist organizations," Bennett said in a statement carried by his office Sunday following the phone call. "Israel has clarified its position on the issue: The IRGC is the largest terrorist org. in the world."

The United States was pulled from the multination Joint Comprehensive Deal of Action aimed at denying Iran access to a nuclear weapon in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, who called it "defective at its core."

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Since then, the Trump administration sought to get Iran back to the negotiating table on a new deal while the Biden administration has wanted to restart the old deal with amendments.

Earlier this month during an interview with Andrea Mitchell of NBC, Secretary of State Antony Blinken fielded a question concerning whether the IRGC would remain on the terrorist list by saying he wouldn't get into specifics of their negotiations with Iran but that he wasn't "overly optimistic at the prospects of actually getting an agreement to conclusion."

"I continue to believe it would be the best interests of our country if we can get back into compliance with the deal, if Iran will do the same," he said. "We're not there."

The call also occurred amid escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians that have seen several terrorists attacks in recent weeks committed in Israel as well as violence committed against Palestinians.

During the call Sunday, the leaders exchanged views on "efforts" to advance peace, security and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians, the White House said.

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