At the conclusion of his meeting Monday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack H. Obama said that Washington would not ease up on its sanctions against Iran unless and until Tehran halted its nuclear arms program.
Netanyahu met with Obama against the background of the President's phone conversation last week with Iranian chief Hassan Rouhani. During the meeting, the Prime Minister discussed Iran's advanced nuclear work, presenting documentation showing that Iran was farther along in its nuclear development than international inspectors suspect.
Netanyahu also presented Obama with the key points he intends to make in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Among other things, Netanyahu is expected to say that he does not rule out diplomatic dialogue with new Iranian President, provided that the talks will establish real results.
Obama said that it was clear that, despite Rouhani's “charm offensive,” the U.S. would not take Iran at its word, and expected to see actions - specifically a reduction in the level of uranium enrichment as demanded by the international community - that can be verified. The U.S., he said, would negotiate with Iran “with its eyes wide open,” and consult closely with Israel on the developments. He stressed that the U.S. was not ruling out any option on Iran, including the military option.
Obama also praised Netanyahu for his willingness to engage in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Obama said that the U.S. wanted to make the negotiations as productive and easy as possible for Israel, and would do whatever was necessary to ensure that the negotiations were successful.
Speaking after the meeting, Netanyahu said that he appreciated Obama's position on Iran. As leaders, the Prime Minister said, he and Obama needed to look at results, not promises, and that standard would apply to Iran as well.
The meeting took longer than expected, Israeli officials said, adding that the fact that Obama met with Netanyahu for such a lengthy period of time, in the face of the domestic crisis he faced - with the government likely to cease operations Tuesday - was a sign of the President's high regard for Israel and Netanyahu.