Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves as she arrives for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves as she arrives for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Clinton, Trump buff foreign policy bona fides on debate eve

Herald news services

NEW YORK – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton both met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu behind closed doors here Sunday.

Trump’s meeting at Trump Tower lasted more than an hour, according to Israeli officials. Clinton and the Israeli Prime Minister met for about 50 minutes at a hotel in Manhattan.

“Mr. Trump and the Prime Minister discussed the special relationship between America and Israel and the unbreakable bond between the two countries,” the Trump campaign said in a statement after the meeting.

Trump and Netanyahu discussed “at length” Israel’s use of a fence to help secure its borders, an example Trump frequently cites when he’s talking about the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico.

Among the other topics discussed, according to the campaign, were the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration — which Trump regularly condemns on the campaign trail — and strategic military coordination between the two countries. The two also spoke about terrorism in the Middle East, the Islamic State militant group, cybersecurity and Israel’s economy.

Similarly, a senior Clinton aide said that the two had an “in-depth” conversation.

“Secretary Clinton stressed that a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism,” the aide said. “She reaffirmed her unwavering commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and her plan to take our partnership to the next level.”

According to the Clinton campaign, they also discussed the Iran nuclear deal and her commitment to working toward a two-state solution to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Netanyahu “thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support for Israel,” according to the prime minister’s office.

Trump “agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State,” the campaign said in a statement.

The real estate mogul has spoken in favor of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, though he has not presented a clear position on what his preferred outcome would be. Earlier this year, he claimed that he would be “neutral” in any negotiations between the two sides, but he has since stated that neutrality would be difficult and that such a deal would have to favor Israel’s interests.

The meetings were designed to put Israel on good footing with the next U.S. president. But it also served to showcase the candidates’ expertise in foreign policy in the shadow of their first debate Monday, six weeks before Election Day. Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, often says that Trump does not know enough about the world and lacks the temperament to be president. Trump has argued that he has extensive experience with foreign policy through his career as a business executive and blames Clinton for many of the nation’s stumbles in foreign policy.

Meanwhile, the candidates deployed their top supporters to the Sunday shows to take early jabs at their opponents and lower expectations for a showdown expected to draw 75 million viewers — many of them disenchanted with both candidates, the least-popular presidential hopefuls in history.

Facts and who will determine them during the 90-minute debate seemed to be a top concern of the campaigns’ strategists given Trump’s habit of saying things that are untrue and the public’s general distrust of Clinton.

Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told ABC’s “This Week” that he is concerned Trump will continue his habit of sometimes saying things that aren’t true and still get a passing grade. He called on moderator Lester Holt to correct any inaccuracies made by the candidates. But Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said it’s not the job of debate moderators to fact check.

Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, meanwhile, said that Gennifer Flowers will not attend the debate. Trump had tweeted that if frequent Trump critic Mark Cuban attended the showdown, he’d put Flowers, allegedly the former mistress of Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, in the audience, too. Conway said that Flowers had a right to be there if “somebody else gives her a ticket.” But Pence drew a harder line.

“Gennifer Flowers will not be attending the debate tomorrow night,” Pence said on “Fox News Sunday.”

This report contains material from The Associated Press and The Washington Post.

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