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Update 1:22 p.m. via Associated Press: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged President Barack Obama to keep tough economic sanctions on Iran in place, even as the U.S. weighs a potential warming of relations and a restart of nuclear negotiations with Tehran’s new government.
“If diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place,” Netanyahu said during an Oval Office meeting with Obama.
The two leaders met at the White House just days after Obama’s historic phone call with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The call marked the first direct conversation between U.S. and Iranian leaders in more than 30 years.
Obama credited the flurry of U.S. sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy with bringing Rouhani to the negotiating table. While he said it was important to “test diplomacy,” the president also said that Rouhani must back up his more conciliatory words with actions that give the international community confidence that Iran is not seeking to produce a nuclear weapon.
“We enter into these negotiations very clear-eyed,” Obama said, adding that while he preferred a diplomatic solution, all options remain on the table, including military action.
12 p.m.: Don’t trust Iran’s diplomatic “sweet talk!” That’s the message Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brings to his meeting today with President Obama.
The message comes after President Obama’s telephone conversation Friday, the first direct conversation between any top U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, when Iranians charged the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage.
Many in Israel worry that Iran’s new interest in diplomacy is a ruse meant to allow the country to continue to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has in the past made direct threats to Israel.