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US 'very disappointed' after Netanyahu cancels Israeli visit to Washington

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Monday it was very disappointed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had canceled a high-level Israeli delegation's planned visit to Washington after the U.S. abstained from a U.N. vote demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

"It's disapppointing. We're very disappointed that they won't be coming to Washington, D.C. to allow us to have a fulsome conversation with them about viable alternatives to them going in on the ground in Rafah," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

Kirby said senior U.S. officials would still meet for separate talks with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who is currently in Washington, on issues including hostages, humanitarian aid and protecting civilians in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

Kirby stressed that U.S. policy had not changed, despite the decision to abstain from the U.N. Security Council vote. He said U.S. officials could continue to bring up Washington's concerns with Israeli policies in Gaza as part of ongoing discussions between the two governments.

“Nothing has changed about our view that a major ground offensive in Rafah would be a major mistake,” Kirby said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rami Ayyub)