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White House Announces Obama Will Make First Trip to Israel as President

FILE - In this March 5, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama's re-election leaves Israel's prime minister in a bind. Benjamin Netanyahu has clashed with Obama and was widely seen as backing challenger Mitt Romney. In coming months, however, Netanyahu will need American support as the Palestinians seek upgraded U.N. recognition and the world grapples with Iran's nuclear program. Credit: AP

FILE - In this March 5, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama plans to visit Israel in the spring, marking his first visit to the nation since becoming president.

The White House says Obama spoke about the visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan. 28. That's when Obama congratulated Netanyahu on his success in Israel's recent election.

Obama visited Israel while running for president in 2008, but hasn't been back since, prompting criticism from some pro-Israel groups.

The White House says the start of Obama's second term offers an opportunity to reaffirm Israel's close relationship with the U.S. and to discuss major issues like Syria and Iran.

The White House has not released the date of Obama's trip.

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