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Obama agenda: Middle East focus

The AP tees up Obama's meeting today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "The Obama administration is trying to promote dialogue with Iran and Syria, Israel's arch foes. Israel fears such efforts could lead to greater tolerance for Iran's nuclear ambitions. But Israel and the U.S. dismiss Iran's claims that its nuclear program is designed to produce energy rather than weapons. Mr. Netanyahu regards Iran as the greatest threat to Israel."

Video: Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk discusses the upcoming meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

More: "In the run-up to the Feb. 10 election, Mr. Netanyahu derided the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which stalled late last year, as a waste of time. He has made clear in the past that he does not think the Palestinians are ready to rule themselves. But that position has put him at odds with U.S. policy that supports Palestinian statehood as the cornerstone of broader Mideast peace efforts. Now, he's feeling the pressure from Washington to endorse Palestinian statehood, and there were some hints that he might be shifting his position."

Reuters says Netanyahu "will stress the need for urgency in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions when he meets … Obama on Monday, a senior Netanyahu adviser said. By putting Iran at the top of his agenda, Netanyahu will be sending a strong signal to Obama that Palestinian statehood, backed by the United States but not endorsed by the new Israeli leader, is not an issue requiring immediate attention." 

The New York Daily News adds, "Expectations are modest for President Obama's meeting Monday with Benjamin Netanyahu, but observers say Israel's prime minister will be more flexible than he was at peace talks a decade ago."