Obama Suggests Netanyahu Can Stop Israeli Settlements Just As Nixon Went to China

By Caitlin Taylor

Jun 5, 2009 8:01am

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:

Yesterday in Egypt, after his speech at Cairo University, President Obama sat down for thirty minutes with seven regional reporters: one from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Malaysia, Indonesia and one Palestinian reporter.

Of the peace process, the president said "I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu will recognize the strategic need to deal with this issue. And that in some ways he may have an opportunity that a labor or more left leader might not have."

Continued the president: "There's the famous example of Richard Nixon going to China. A Democrat couldn't have gone to China. A liberal couldn't have gone to China. But a big, anti-communist like Richard Nixon could open that door. Now, it's conceivable that Prime Minister Netanyahu can play that same role.”

Cold warrior Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China marked the beginning of a process of US-Chinese normalization. The expression launched by that visit even found its way into "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," when Mr. Spock tries to convince Captain Kirk to lead an escort of Klingons to a peace conference.

"There's an old Vulcan proverb: 'Only Nixon could go to China,'" said Spock, no doubt yet another example of the myriad Obama-Spock comparisons that have been made in recent weeks.

–Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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