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Obama Calls Netanyahu, Updates on Geneva Talks

Amid growing diplomatic crisis and following PM's criticism over Iran talks, Obama calls Netanyahu Friday, updates him on negotiations.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 11/9/2013, 9:29 PM

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
Flash 90

US President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday after Netanyahu strongly opposed the proposals being offered to Iran in Geneva. AFP reports that Obama gave Netanyahu an update on the Geneva talks, although specific contents of the call remain unknown.

A statement said Obama, aside from the update, "underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," and that the two agreed to stay in touch on the issue.

Meanwhile Netanyahu's concerns have been echoed in the US Congress. Eric Cantor, Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, said "any agreement that does not require the full and complete halting of the Iranian nuclear program is worse than no deal at all.

The talks apparently are not yielding imminent results, as French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said "there is an initial draft that we do not accept... As we speak, I have no certainty that we can finish up."

US Secretary of State John Kerry is currently in Geneva for three-way talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Before Kerry left on Friday, Netanyahu told him that Israel "utterly rejects" the proposed deals being offered to Iran which many fear will ease the sanctions in return for token gestures that would leave Iranian nuclear capability intact.

Netanyahu further stated that "Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people," hinting that Israel would be willing to carry out an independent military strike to take out Iran's nuclear program.

Obama called Netanyahu later the same day (Friday), after White House staff rejected Netanyahu's criticism as being "premature" given that no deal had yet been made.

The US President and Netanyahu's relationship has been rocky, with a book released Tuesday revealing that Obama called Netanyahu a "pain in the a**" during his 2012 presidential campaign.