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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid