US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday during a carefully choreographed White House meeting that was short on details that they'd press for a quick resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. His remarks came during a makeup session with Netanyahu, their first meeting since Israel carried out a deadly raid on an aid flotilla heading toward Gaza, straining relationships in the region and further complicating efforts to move the peace talks to the next phase. Several important deadlines are on the horizon: In addition to the expiration of the settlement moratorium, time is running out on the "proximity talks" between the Palestinians and Israelis, which are scheduled to last through September. And Turkey -- a onetime ally of Israel that has turned bitter since the flotilla raid, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed -- is poised to assume the leadership of the U.N. Security Council that month. At a picture-taking session with Netanyahu, Obama said he hoped that direct Middle East talks could begin "well before" Israel's moratorium on new Jewish settlements in West Bank expires in September. He called on Israelis and Palestinians to take confidence-building steps to prepare the ground, but he gave few specifics. "The president and I discussed concrete steps that could be done now in the coming days, in the coming weeks to move the peace process further along in a very robust way," Netanyahu said. Obama made Middle East peace a priority on taking office, but he's made no progress because of Israel's intransigence. The tone at Tuesday's meeting suggested that the president discarded his tactic of public confrontation with Israel after the powerful Jewish lobby here pressured him. The meeting was orchestrated down to the smallest detail to project an image of an untroubled U.S.-Israeli alliance, an image with potential political benefits for the president and other Democrats in November's midterm elections. Obama even signaled, albeit in diplomatic code, that his drive for nuclear nonproliferation doesn't extend to Israel's unacknowledged nuclear arsenal. "We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it's in and the threats that are leveled ... against it, that Israel has unique security requirements," he said. The tone and atmospherics could hardly have been more different from Netanyahu's last visit to Washington in March, when the president declined even to have his picture taken with the prime minister. The administration was smarting from the embarrassment two weeks earlier, when an Israeli announcement of construction of 1,600 apartments for Israelis in disputed East Jerusalem upstaged what was to be a fence-mending trip by Vice President Joe Biden . During a heated discussion of Israeli settlement activity, Obama was reported to have left the Israeli leader and his aides waiting and gone to the White House residence to dine with his daughters. Tuesday's one-on-one session lasted an hour and 19 minutes and was followed by a working luncheon attended by the administration's top brass, including Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton , National Security Adviser James Jones, special adviser Dennis Ross and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice . The president didn't reply directly when a reporter asked him whether the moratorium should be continued past September. Moreover, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is reluctant to move from indirect talks, mediated by special U.S. envoy George Mitchell, to the direct negotiations called for Tuesday. The Palestinians first want assurances that the negotiations will lead to an independent state. "We cannot just engage again in a process that will lead us nowhere," said Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian envoy to Washington. Obama's outreach to Israel follows a recent pattern of smoothing over differences with allies. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was feted during a May visit to Washington after months of mutual recriminations.