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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid