News / Middle East

Obama, Netanyahu Issue Warnings to Iran and Assad

President Obama (left) and Israeli PM Netanyahu at news conference in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013
President Obama (left) and Israeli PM Netanyahu at news conference in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Iran and Syria were major topics of conversation on Obama's first day in Israel, as he began a four-day Middle East trip.  
 
At a joint news conference, both leaders said the United States and Israel agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to Israel, the region and the world.

Obama said there is "very little daylight" (very little difference) between U.S. and Israeli government assessments on Iran's nuclear development.  He said a diplomatic solution is the preferable and longer lasting outcome, but added that he respects Israel's right to act on its own as the U.S. keeps all options open.

"The United States will continue to consult closely with Israel on next steps and I will repeat, all options are on the table, and we will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world's worst weapons," said President Obama.

Obama said Iran's past behavior indicates that the international community "can't even trust, much less verify" Tehran’s pledges.  But he said the world needs to continue "testing" whether the issue can be resolved diplomatically.  

Netanyahu said he is "absolutely convinced" that Obama is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and he believes Obama fully understands Israel's position.

"The United States is committed to deal with it, Israel is committed to deal with it," said Netanyahu. "We have different vulnerabilities obviously and different capabilities, we take that into account.  But what we do maintain, and I think the president is the first to do so, is that Israel has a right to independently defend against any threat including the Iranian threat."

Netanyahu said if Iran arrives at an "immunity zone" in its uranium enrichment process, "whatever time is left is not a lot of time" for action.  Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Talks also covered the bloody civil war in Syria and the use or transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups.  Obama said this would be a "game changer," although he said the U.S. and its partners are working to learn the facts.

"When you start seeing weapons that can cause potential devastation, and mass casualties, and you let that genie out of the bottle, then you are looking potentially at even more horrific scenes than we have already seen in Syria, and the international community has to act on that additional information," said Obama.

President Obama and Israeli leaders say they are fully committed to reviving stalled Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations for a two-state solution.

Obama said his goal is to ensure that the United States remains a positive force in creating opportunities for peace.

Netanyahu spoke of turning a page in Israel's relations with Palestinians.

"Let us sit down at the negotiating table," he said. "Let us put aside all preconditions.  Let us work together to achieve the historic compromise that will end our conflict once and for all."

President Obama meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Related video report:

Obama, Israeli Leaders Reaffirm Security Tiesi
X
March 20, 2013 4:57 PM
President Barack Obama and Israeli leaders have reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Israel security relationship, as Obama began a four-day Middle East trip. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports from Jerusalem.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid