Obama And Netanyahu Discuss Iran And Syria At White House
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at the White House, meeting with President Obama to discuss security and intelligence matters, including Iran's nuclear program.
The White House says the two will discuss "final status negotiations with the Palestinians, as well as developments in Iran, Syria and elsewhere in the region."
Update at 4:45 p.m. ET: Leaders Describe Their Meeting
The White House has released a transcript of the two leaders discussing their meeting. Below are some highlights.
"Both the Prime Minister and I agree, since I came into office, that it is imperative that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon," Obama said.
The president said Iran must match any conciliatory words with actions.
He later added, "I've said before and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America."
The president also said the two had talked about Syria, saying, "We are both pleased that there is the possibility of finally getting chemical weapons stockpiles out of Syria."
In his remarks, Netanyahu called preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons "the most important challenge."
He later said, "Iran is committed to Israel's destruction. So for Israel, the ultimate test of a future agreement with Iran is whether or not Iran dismantles its military nuclear program. We have a saying in Hebrew, we call it mivchan hatotza'a — you would say it in English, what's the bottom line? And the bottom line, again, is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program."
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They are scheduled to have a "working lunch" Monday that will also include Vice President Joseph Biden.
Before leaving for America, the Israeli leader promised to warn officials in Washington and elsewhere that they should maintain pressure on Iran to cease its nuclear program.
"I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles," Netanyahu said before flying to the U.S., The Associated Press reports. "Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world and, of course, it is vital for the security of the state of Israel."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected this past summer, has been credited with softening his country's image a bit, after a trip to the U.N. General Assembly session in New York that included a phone call with Obama — the first direct contact between the two nation's leaders since the 1970s.
After that call, Rouhani said he and the American president had agreed on the importance of finding a peaceful way to resolve concerns over Iran's nuclear program. They instructed their top diplomats to continue the discussions.
Reuters, citing an Israeli official, says Netanyahu will tell Obama that international sanctions on Iran are responsible for the country's willingness to negotiate — and that the sanctions "should not be eased, quite the contrary, they should be tightened."