White House plays down reports of Netanyahu snub

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WASHINGTON -- The White House struggled Tuesday to dispel reports that it had snubbed a request for a meeting this month from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As Netanyahu stepped up his criticism of Obama's approach to the Iran nuclear threat, Israeli officials disclosed that Netanyahu had sought unsuccessfully to schedule a meeting with Obama at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly session in New York. Netanyahu's office had been told, Israeli officials said, that Obama would not be at the U.N. on Sept. 27 and 28, when Netanyahu would be there.

After a day of news reports about the escalating feud, the White House arranged an evening phone call between Obama and Netanyahu and insisted in a statement that the leaders had discussed "our close cooperation on Iran and other security issues." It denied that the Israelis had asked for a meeting in Washington.

But the Israeli government, in a statement Tuesday, confirmed that Netanyahu had sought the meeting.

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