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US House Speaker in Israel as Iran Talks Continue

  • Scott Bobb

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner, left, and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, make statements during a press conference at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, April 1, 2015.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner, left, and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, make statements during a press conference at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, April 1, 2015.

As the negotiations over Iran's reported nuclear weapons program were extended into Wednesday, Israel's prime minister and the leader of the Republican-led, U.S. House of Representatives have reiterated their opposition to the deal being negotiated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly welcomed U.S. House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, who is visiting the Middle East with a delegation of U.S. congressmen.

Neither leader spoke directly about the Iranian nuclear negotiations headlining news around the world. But analysts said the timing of the visit, as negotiations between world powers and Iran are winding down in Switzerland, was a reminder there is strong opposition in both countries to the deal being reported.

Before meeting with Netanyahu, Boehner did not mention any Middle Eastern country by name but made clear he is concerned over the situation in the region.

"Regardless of where in the Middle East we have been, the message has been the same, 'You can not continue to turn your eye away from the threat that faces all of us,' " he said.

Boehner inflamed partisan hostilities last month when he invited Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of U.S. Congress without advising the Obama administration.

In that speech in early March, Netanyahu sharply criticized any deal that would allow Iran to maintain what he said was most of its nuclear weapons-making capabilities.

Threat highlighted

On Wednesday, Netanyahu highlighted what he sees as a threat to the values of democracy and freedom espoused by the two countries.

"The Middle East is plagued by anti-Western, anti-democratic and anti-American extremism. Terrorists brutally behead their shackled captives before video cameras. Despots lead their people with chants of 'Death to America' while building intercontinental missiles to reach America," he said.

The prime minister avoided mentioning any country by name.

But an hour before meeting the U.S. delegation, he told journalists any concessions to Iran would ensure a bad deal that would endanger Israel, the Middle East and world peace.

"A better deal would link the eventual lifting of the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program to a change in Iran's behavior," he said. "Iran must stop its aggression in the region, stop its terrorism throughout the world and stop its threats to annihilate Israel. That should be non-negotiable and that is the deal that the world powers must insist upon."

Iran said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and it has a sovereign right to develop this program.

The reported deal would limit Iran's ability to produce weapons-grade uranium and would provide international oversight of its nuclear facilities in exchange for a lifting of international economic sanctions.

On CNN's Sunday news show State of the Union, Boehner warned that if the Iran nuclear negotiations collapsed, new "sanctions are going to come, and they’re going to come quick."

The U.S. delegation’s trip to the Middle East also included stops in Jordan on Sunday and Iraq on Monday.

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