President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Dismiss Reports of Tensions

The continuing deterioration in relations between Israel and Turkey is becoming a pressing problem. Following May's fatal Israeli raid against a flotilla of Turkish ships bound for Gaza in which Israeli commandos killed nine activists, Turkey is threatening to shut down diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. The slide in relations between the U.S.'s two closest regional partners is a serious matter.

'Thorny Issues'

Netanyahu will also face questions over Israel's blockade of Gaza. Israel has significantly relaxed the transfer of civilian goods into the territory run by Hamas. Obama has described the blockade as unsustainable.

There is also bad feeling over the recently signed Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Backed by Washington, the new draft appears to single out Israel's long-held policy of nuclear ambiguity for special scrutiny. Israeli officials are unhappy the U.S. signed the treaty, and had hoped the U.S. would work to remove the offending paragraph.

One problem that won't go away for Netanyahu is the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held for four years as a prisoner of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. His parents are halfway through a march to Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem, gathering thousands of supporters as they go. Netanyahu refuses to release all the prisoners Hamas wants in return for freeing the soldier. The prime minister said he is prepared to pay a high price but "not any price."

So there are plenty of thorny issues to discuss between two men, who are said to lack personal chemistry or similar world views. But they know the continuing crisis in relations is damaging to both of them. Great efforts will be made to hide disagreements, and Tuesday's meeting will be likely billed as a fresh start.

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