News / Middle East

    Netanyahu to Press Obama for No Letup on Iran Pressure

    US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.
    x
    US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.
    US President Barack Obama, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013.
    Reuters
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will warn President Barack Obama in White House talks on Monday that Iran's diplomatic “sweet talk” cannot be trusted and will urge him to keep up the pressure to prevent Tehran from being able to make a nuclear bomb.
     
    While Obama will attempt to reassure Netanyahu that he will not act prematurely to ease sanctions on Iran, growing signs of a U.S.-Iranian thaw have rattled Israel and could make for a tense encounter between the two leaders, who have not always seen eye-to-eye on the Iranian nuclear dispute.
     
    They will meet in Washington three days after Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone in the highest-level contact between the countries in more than three decades. The call fueled hopes for a resolution of Iran's decade-old nuclear standoff with the West.
     
    “Netanyahu does not care that he is the only one ruining the party,” an Israeli official said.
     
    Obama is expected to voice sympathy for Israel's skepticism about Iran, its longtime enemy, but will make clear his determination to test Rouhani's intentions and will press Netanyahu for time to do so, U.S. officials say.
     
    For his part, Netanyahu will tell Obama that tough economic sanctions have succeeded in forcing Iran back to the negotiating table and “they should not be eased, quite the contrary, they should be tightened,” a second Israeli official said.
     
    Netanyahu will urge Obama to reject any concessions by the West and instead demand specific steps by Iran, including shutting down its uranium enrichment and plutonium projects and shipping out their fissile material. “He will tell the president 'better no deal than a bad deal,”' the official said.
     
    The Obama administration has been vague on what concessions it wants from Iran, and a source close to the White House said the president is expected to resist Israeli pressure for a precise time limit for diplomacy to produce an agreement.
     
    Despite their differences behind closed doors, Obama and Netanyahu are expected to try to project unity. Talks begin in the Oval Office at 11:15 a.m. EDT/1515 GMT, ending with statements to a small pool of journalists, followed by a working lunch.
     
    Netanyahu spent Sunday holed up at his New York hotel working on a speech he will deliver at the United Nations on Tuesday while his aides mostly stayed out of the public eye.
     
    “I will speak the truth. Facts must be stated in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles,” Netanyahu said at the airport in Tel Aviv before departing for the United States.
     
    Signaling Netanyahu's aim to counter Rouhani's charm offensive with one of his own, aides said the U.S.-educated Israeli leader will extend his visit by a day to conduct a series of media interviews.
     
    History of strained ties
     
    Obama and Netanyahu have a history of difficult encounters, including a blowup in the Oval Office in 2011 when Netanyahu famously lectured the president on Jewish history.
     
    Iran strategy has strained relations between them before, most notably last year when Netanyahu pushed back against U.S. pressure on Israel not to launch its own pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear sites.
     
    Having secured a second term, Obama visited Israel in March, where he eased the personal rift with Netanyahu and offered  reassurances that he was determined to deny Iran the means to make a bomb, something that Tehran denies it is seeking.
     
    But different clocks tick for the two allies. While they agree that Tehran could make its first nuclear device in months if it were intent on doing so, Israel warned last week this gap could shrink to weeks due to new Iranian uranium centrifuges.
     
    Limited in conventional military clout, Israel - believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power - would prefer the U.S. superpower takes lead against Iran if diplomacy fails.
     
    Yet Israelis watched worriedly as Obama stumbled in his bid to muster domestic support for attacking Syria in reprisal over Damascus's suspected use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21.
     
    Netanyahu will look for proof of Obama's commitment to confront Tehran with a “credible military threat.” Obama insists he is not bluffing but has not been as explicit as Israel wants.
     
    However, neither does Netanyahu look any closer to launching a strike on Iran alone, with Israeli public support lacking and questions about whether it would be militarily effective.
     
    In the meantime, Obama's engagement with Iran could be limited by the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington and lawmakers who share Netanyahu's suspicion of Rouhani, a moderate cleric who took office in August and conducted a public relations blitz at the United Nations last week.
     
    Netanyahu could meet supporters on Capitol Hill on Monday.
     
    Seeking to stress common ground, U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice told CNN on Sunday  the United States, Israel and other allies “have been largely united in agreeing on the process going forward” with Iran. But she acknowledged the path was unclear as negotiations with Iran were not yet under way.
     
    Further complicating matters is Obama's re-invigorated push for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in talks that restarted earlier this year. Middle East diplomacy is expected to figure more prominently in Monday's meeting than originally thought, after Obama listed it as a top priority in his address to the United Nations on Tuesday.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora