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Angela Merkel to visit Israel end February

German president Joachim Gauck (L) welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the New Year Reception in Berlin, on January 8, 2013. (AFP PHOTO / DPA/ WOLFGANG KUMM)

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Israel at the end of February at the invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for annual talks between the two governments, a statement said Thursday.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the two leaders had a phone conversation Thursday in which Netanyahu "invited the German government for talks at the end of February which must take place in Israel this year."

He also wished Merkel a speedy recovery after she recently fractured her pelvis in a ski accident ,and congratulated the German leader on her election for a third term, Seibert said.

The inter-governmental talks will be the first for Merkel's new team, a marriage of convenience between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Germany's support of Israel has been a constant since the Second World War, although Berlin has upped pressure recently on Netanyahu to show greater restraint in building settlements in the Palestinian territories.

On Wednesday US President Barack Obama phoned Merkel to wish her a rapid recovery and invite her to Washington in the coming months, which she accepted.

 

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