Washington ? President Barack Obama will go to Israel in March, the White House said on Tuesday, marking his first visit to the staunch US ally since becoming president. While in the region, Obama will make stops in the West Bank and Jordan.

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the visit to Israel in late January, when Obama congratulated Netanyahu on his success in Israel?s recent election. The White House has not released the date of Obama?s trip or details about Obama?s itinerary, but Israel?s Channel 10 reported that the trip had been scheduled for 20 March.

?The start of the president?s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria,? said National Security Council Spokesperson Tommy Vietor.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Obama would work closely with Palestinian Authority and Jordanian officials on regional issues during his visit to Jordan and the West Bank.

Obama?s trip to Israel, coming shortly after the start of his second term, could offer an opportunity to repair a notoriously strained relationship with Netanyahu. But the trip is almost certain to raise expectations for the type of peace initiative that eluded Obama and his foreign policy team during his first four years in office.

Obama has in the past warned against setting expectations too high for a breakthrough in stalled negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Source : AP

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