Obama withholds condemnation of Gaza flotilla clashes, calls for clarification of 'facts'
U.S. President Obama says he deeply regrets loss of life, plans to reschedule meeting with Netanyahu.
U.S. President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he deeply regretted the loss of life in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on Monday and urged him to quickly get to the bottom of the incident.
The White House's cautious response, which contrasted with an outcry against Israel's actions in Europe and the Muslim world, reflected a difficult balancing act for Obama.
He will face international pressure to join condemnation of Israel but must also be mindful that the close U.S. ally is popular with American lawmakers and voters. At the same time, fledgling U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts are at risk of collapse.
"The president expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded," the White House said in a summary of Obama's phone call with Netanyahu hours Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza and at least nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.
"The president also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible," it said.
Obama, ending a long holiday weekend in Chicago, also told Netanyahu he understood his decision to cancel their White House talks set for Tuesday and return home from a visit to Canada, to deal with the incident.
They agreed to reschedule a meeting soon, the White House said.
Israel's storming of the aid ship unleashed international outrage over the bloody end to a bid by human rights campaigners to break an Israeli blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The UN Security Council called an emergency session for later on Monday...MORE...LINK
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