White House says Netanyahu call will be Biden's first to region

White House says Netanyahu call will be Biden's first to region
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White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiConflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden walks fine line with Fox News White House on Cleveland Indians' name change: 'We certainly support their change of name' MORE said Tuesday that President BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE will speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE “soon” and that the phone call would be the new president’s first to a leader in the Middle East .

“His first call with a leader in the region will be with Prime Minister Netanyahu. It will be soon. I don’t have an exact date for you,” Psaki told reporters at an afternoon briefing.

“Israel is, of course, an ally. Israel is a country where we have an important strategic security relationship and our team is fully engaged, not at the head-of-state level quite yet but very soon,” she added.

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Biden has held calls with a number of U.S. allies in Europe and Asia, including the leaders of France, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea, but not Netanyahu, spurring questions about why Israel had been left out of the group. Psaki said last week that it did not represent an “intentional diss.”

It’s unclear precisely when the phone call between the two leaders will occur. Biden has two domestic day trips planned this week to Wisconsin and Michigan and is focused on promoting his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal.

White House national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanBiden walks fine line with Fox News US delegation departs Haiti after reports of gunshots at ex-president's funeral No. 2 State Department official to travel to China amid tensions MORE spoke with his counterpart in Israel, Meir Ben Shabbat, at the end of January shortly after Biden took office. Psaki indicated Tuesday there have been multiple phone calls with the Israelis at various levels of the government.

Psaki also said Tuesday that the White House would “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. She noted that Biden’s counterpart is King Salman, not Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and expected they would have a conversation “at an appropriate time.”

Psaki said that the Biden administration would continue to work with Saudi Arabia on their defensive needs in the region “even as we make clear areas where we have disagreements and areas where we have concerns, and that is certainly a shift in the approach from the prior administration.”

The Biden administration has temporarily paused U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates approved by the prior administration as part of a review. The Biden administration also announced earlier this month it was ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen.