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Obama, Netanyahu Spar Over Iran Nuclear Negotiations

FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama, March 2, 2015.
FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama, March 2, 2015.

U.S. President Barack Obama says American and Iranian negotiators have narrowed their differences over Iran's suspect nuclear program, but says he is prepared to end negotiations if no acceptable deal can be reached.

Obama spoke in a pre-recorded interview aired Sunday on CBS television. He said any deal must permit Western inspectors to verify that Tehran is not working to develop a nuclear weapon.

With a target date of late March for an agreement, Obama -- who taped the interview Saturday -- said "if there is no deal, then we walk away."

Later in the program "Face the Nation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and Obama "share the same goal" of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. "But we disagree on how to do it," he said.

Iran has steadfastly insisted its nuclear program is peaceful and is limited to developing energy for civilian use.

Netanyahu said he does "not trust inspections with totalitarian regimes," and said he would be "a lot more circumspect" than Washington in dealing with Iranian negotiators and the Tehran government. He also has objected to negotiating with a government allied with Hamas militants, who refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist.

Ahead of parliamentary elections later this month, the Israeli leader made a controversial visit to Washington last week, when he addressed the U.S. Congress and called the possible nuclear deal with Iran a "bad deal."

His address drew criticism from Obama, who said it offered no new alternatives for dealing with Iran and its nuclear ambitions. White House officials also said House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress violated official protocol because the Republican leader did not first consult the White House.

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