November 28, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 22, 2017.

Ronen Zvulun | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden had a long phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday when Biden first spoke to a Middle Eastern leader as president.

“The conversation was very warm and friendly and lasted about an hour,” Netanyahu said in a statement that was the first indication that the call had taken place.

Netanyahu shared the statement in two tweets in Hebrew, along with a photo of the smiling Prime Minister holding a phone to his ear.

The White House said in a reading later on Wednesday that during the call, Biden “reiterated his personal history of unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and expressed his intention to cross all aspects of the US-Israel partnership, including our strong defense cooperation to strengthen “.

“The leaders discussed the importance of continuing close consultation on regional security issues, including Iran,” the ad said.

“The President underlined US support for the recent normalization of relations between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world. He underlined the importance of promoting peace across the region, including between Israelis and Palestinians,” he added.

“Together they reaffirmed their common interest in continued strategic cooperation in order to meet the many challenges facing the region,” read the reading.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Netanyahu was the first Middle East leader Biden would speak to as president.

The call signals that the new US administration wants to maintain the close ties with Israel that were strengthened during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Netanyahu’s statement said that he and Biden “took note of their long-standing personal relationship and that they would work together to further strengthen the unshakable alliance between Israel and the US”

“President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed the future development of the peace accords, the Iranian threat and regional challenges and agreed to continue their dialogue.”

Biden “also commended Prime Minister Netanyahu for his leadership in the fight against the coronavirus,” Netanyahu said, adding that “the two have exchanged ideas on ways to deal with the pandemic.”

The call to Netanyahu came a day after Psaki said the US is planning to recalibrate its relationship with Saudi Arabia, an extremely influential power in the region.

In early 2020, then-candidate Biden had vowed to take a tougher stance on the Islamic kingdom than Trump, who had worked closely with Saudi leaders and was reluctant to criticize the kingdom for its human rights violations.

It’s still unclear how Netanyahu’s relationship with Biden compares to his embrace from Trump. The Israeli leader had welcomed Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Obama-era Iranian nuclear deal. Biden said he wanted to join again.

The Biden administration has also taken steps to restore relations with Palestinians after they severed ties with Israel and the US under Trump.

– CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this article