Israel's Netanyahu meets Obama, will urge no let-up on Iran

# 30 September 2013 18:28 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. 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, APA reports quoting Reuters.

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.

Netanyahu arrived for the Oval Office meeting just 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 earlier.

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, who said nothing to reporters as he entered the White House to begin talks, 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 differences they were expected to hash out behind closed doors, Obama and Netanyahu were expected to try to project unity. The leaders were due to make statements to a small pool of journalists at the end of their meeting and then hold 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.

Though Obama has focused on diplomatic outreach to Iran in recent days, his attention has been divided by the threat of a looming U.S. government shutdown just after midnight on Monday if a stalemate with congressional Republicans is not resolved.