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February 7, 2012 1:46 pm

Clinton and Lieberman Hold Meeting in Washington

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Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. Photo: Danny Ayalon.

Yahoo News – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with hundreds of foreign leaders in the course of her daily work as Obama’s top diplomat. Yet her meeting Tuesday at the State Department with her Israeli counterpart, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, was a rare occasion: it was their first face to face meeting in well over a year. This D.C. visit is only Lieberman’s second visit to Washington since he became Israeli Foreign Minister three years ago; he and Clinton last met in Jerusalem in September 2010.

Why the distance? Israeli domestic politics is one reason. Lieberman, who is also the leader of a right wing pro-settlements political party, is viewed as a political competitor on the right by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in whose government he serves. And it’s not always clear Lieberman’s expressed positions are in lock step with those of the prime minister. Then there’s the fact that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has often stood in as an almost de facto foreign minister to Washington-a perhaps more comfortable if not unproblematic interlocutor given his pro-peace process positions are not quite in line with Netanyahu’s.

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