Trump says 'I may' attend opening of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem

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President Donald Trump said the new US embassy in Jerusalem will cost $250,000 in a meeting at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday - not the $1 billion he says his staff estimated - but his remarks created confusion.

The deal casts a long shadow on the visit of Netanyahu in Washington, where he is due to meet later Monday with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump, with Netanyahu at his side in the Oval Office, said he was considering making what would be his second visit to Jerusalem as president.

In December, Trump announced his controversial plan to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - a decision that has been met by praise - and criticism - from leaders around the world.

The new embassy will initially be located in a USA consular building in Jerusalem al-Quds while Washington searches for "a permanent location".

"Other leaders talked about it", said Netanyahu.

In his encounters with Trump and at the AIPAC conference, he was expected to focus mainly on Iran as Israel's greatest enemy, and one he says seeks a permanent military presence in neighboring Syria.

The embattled USA president warmly welcomed the embattled Israeli prime minister, claiming ties between their two countries had "never been better" as he floated a May trip that would be a major security and diplomatic challenge.

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"We will discuss Iranian aggression in our region in general and especially with regard to the Iranian nuclear program. Is that good?" Trump said. "The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table". "We have, I would say, probably the best relationships right now with Israel that we ever had. That is our common challenge", said Netanyahu.

The meeting takes place at a challenging time for Trump and Netanyahu.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, said Trump's decision on Jerusalem renders the United States an unreliable actor in peace talks. But in at least one big way, the uncertainty and strife at the White House intersected with Netanyahu's visit: a central United States interlocutor on Middle East peace, senior adviser Jared Kushner, has had his access to top-secret information yanked amid a crackdown on interim security clearances.

Trump also said his administration is working "very hard" on a peace deal, but acknowledged potential problems.

"On behalf of all Israeli citizens, as I understand it, I am heading out to pursue three goals: security, peace and economic prosperity for our nation", Netanyahu said.

There has been little progress, however, on a broader peace deal with the Palestinians, who were dismayed with Trump's decision to move the embassy.



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