Last updated: 21 February, 2012

Obama to address pro-Israel lobby meet on March 4

US President Barack Obama will address the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC on March 4, one day before meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said Tuesday.

“The president welcomes this opportunity to speak to the strengths of the special bonds between Israel and the United States,” said spokesman Jay Carney.

Netanyahu was also to deliver a speech at the meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby on the evening of March 5, after meeting Obama.

US politicians often flock to AIPAC to gain backing and air their pro-Israel positions — with the November election approaching, this year’s event is set to be even more hotly political than usual.

In his address to the group last year, Obama pledged to stand by the Jewish state through thick and thin, stressing Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security.

His upcoming talks with Netanyahu comes amid rising tensions with Iran, and with increased speculation over whether Israel is planning to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

The US leader was also expected to address the state of US-backed peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, after several rounds of exploratory meetings have failed to spark a move back to direct talks.