US Vice President Harris holds first phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Harris makes clear her country's 'unwavering commitment to Israel's security'

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrat from California, wears a protective mask while walking through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Senators enter the final stages of debating Democrats' $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill today with passage in the chamber likely over the weekend and a security threat looming over the Capitol that prompted the House to wrap up work for the week ahead of schedule. Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday held their first phone call since the Biden administration entered the White House.

The two leaders discussed an array of topics, including global security and Iran, Covid vaccinations and the International Criminal Court.

The White House said Ms Harris "expressed strong support for Israel’s recent groundbreaking normalisation agreements with countries in the Arab and Muslim world, and stressed the importance of advancing peace, security and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike".

For both countries, the issue of developments in Iran was high on the list of important topics after the Biden administration said it was open to re-entering the nuclear deal.

"We will look forward with strong interest to Iran's willingness to engage in a way that leads to credible, concrete progress on these issues," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday.

Ms Harris said the US had "unwavering commitment to Israel's security", the White House said.

They also discussed their stances on the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate war crimes in the Palestinian territories, a move the US and Israel rejected when it was announced on Wednesday.

Ms Harris and Mr Netanyahu in the call declared a mutual "opposition to the International Criminal Court's attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel", the White House said.

The leaders committed to continue the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and to update each other with scientific discoveries.

Israel leads the world in Covid-19 vaccinations, having inoculated about 93 out of 100 people, according to a Bloomberg News global vaccination tracker.

Although the US distribution programme had a rocky start, about 24 out of every 100 people are now vaccinated.

This is Ms Harris's second call to a world leader since she came into office, after a call to French President Emmanuel Macron.

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