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Obama campaign: Visit to Israel will take place in second term

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama would visit Israel in a second term, a top campaign surrogate said.

"We can expect him to visit Israel in a second term, should he be reelected," Colin Kahl, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, who is now a campaign spokesman on the region, said Monday in a conference call with reporters.

The call was timed ahead of a trip later this month to London, Poland and Israel by Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.

The Obama campaign officials on the call said Romney needed to outline substantive foreign policy differences with Obama on the trip, describing Romney’s statements until now as little more than criticism of Obama.

Reporters pressed the Obama officials on perceived differences with Israel, noting for instance that Obama failed to visit Israel in his first term, although he visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Kahl and others noted Obama’s visit to Israel as a candidate in 2008 and that a number of other presidents did not visit Israel in their first terms.

"Being a friend of Israel shouldn’t be judged by a travel itinerary," Kahl said. "I don’t think this is a serious policy difference; it’s basically a distraction."

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