Netanyahu Leaves for Paris ahead of Talks with Obama

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Paris on Thursday on a trip that will also take him to Washington after he received a last-minute invitation for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.

In Paris, Netanyahu will formally accept an invitation for Israel to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group of 30 developed world nations.

He is also scheduled to hold talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as well as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday, his aides said.

He will then travel to Canada on Friday before heading to Washington, where he will hold talks with Obama on Tuesday.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is on an otherwise private visit to Israel, on Wednesday handed Netanyahu a personal invitation from the U.S. president.

Israeli media interpreted the invitation as a signal that the U.S. administration is seeking to turn a new leaf in ties, following a major row over construction of homes for Jewish settlers in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

The Washington visit comes ahead of a similar trip by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who is expected to meet Obama at some point in June.(AFP)