Blair calls for credible talks after meeting Netanyahu
In the UK and international press today, several papers report on the news that Iran invited several countries to visit its nuclear sites ahead of upcoming nuclear talks between Tehran and Western powers. Reuters notes that the US and UK dismissed Iran’s move calling it a public relations stunt and noted that it would be better if Iran allowed UN inspectors into its nuclear sites. Sky News carries an interview with Quartet Middle East Envoy Tony Blair following his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. The Telegraph notes that Netanyahu sent a letter to US President Barack Obama yesterday calling for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Meanwhile, Reuters notes that Lebanon asked the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to ensure that Israel does not encroach on Lebanon when it plans to drill offshore reserves near the border.
In the Israeli press this morning, all papers report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a public and formal letter to US President Barack Obama requesting for the release of jailed spy Jonathan Pollard. The prime minister, who is the first premier to call for Pollard’s release publicly, informed the Knesset of the letter yesterday and read it to the plenum. The papers note that the Israeli Air Force struck at two targets, a Hamas base and a smuggling tunnel in Gaza, yesterday in response to a Qassam rocket that landed near the southern city of Ashkelon. The Jerusalem Post notes that diplomatic activity surrounding the peace process resumed following the Christmas and New Year break. Netanyahu met with Quartet envoy Tony Blair, while EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton arrives in the region today. In addition, Netanyahu will meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt on Thursday.