Clinton Meets Israeli Leaders in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM -- In her first visit to the Mideast, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke about sending envoys to Syria for "preliminary conversations."

"We have no way to predict what the future with our relations concerning Syria might be," Clinton said. "There has to be some perceived benefit of doing so for the United States and our allies and our shared values. But I think it is a worthwhile effort to go and begin these preliminary conversations."

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell's report.

Clinton added that the U.S. would soon send two envoys to Syria. The U.S. withdrew its ambassador in 2005, accusing Syria of supporting terrorism.

Clinton is also making headlines for saying the establishment of a Palestinian state is "inescapable."

Her most important meeting will be with Israel's prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

While Clinton's top issue is a Palestinian state, Israel's chief concern is Iran.

Before she arrived in Israel from Egypt, Clinton restated the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Netanyahu believes it's not the time to talk about a Palestinian state when Israel is enduring daily rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

After meeting with Israel's President Shimon Peres, Clinton spoke out against the attacks.

"There is no doubt that any nation, including Israel, cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subject to rocket attacks," Clinton said.

Still, Clinton wants Israel to open the border crossings to the Gaza Strip, even though Israeli leaders believe it is a strong security risk.

Clinton will hear plenty about Iran while she is here. Netanyahu believes the threat of a nuclear Iran is Israel's top priority, and he is trying to build a broad coalition government to deal with Iran's nuclear advance.

Although Israeli leaders know they can't stop the Obama administration from talking to Iran, they're asking Clinton to cover the talks with a threat of strong sanctions and to work out an action plan in case the talks fail.

Israeli intelligence believes Iran could have the material for a nuclear bomb by the end of this year.

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Chris Mitchell

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