White House: Obama Won’t Meet Israeli PM on US Visit

Posted September 11th, 2012 at 10:40 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli leader visits New York this month to urge that the U.N. take tougher action against Iran's nuclear program.

The White House says the two leaders discussed Iran's nuclear program during an hour-long telephone call Tuesday night, and are united in keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

But a White House statement says there has been no request for Mr. Netanyahu to meet with Mr. Obama in Washington.

A White House official told VOA earlier that Mr. Obama's decision should not be interpreted as a refusal to meet the Israeli prime minister.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the two leaders are scheduled to be in New York later this month, but not at the same time.

Vietor said the U.S. and Israeli leaders are in “frequent contact.” He said Mr. Netanyahu will meet other senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his visit.

The Obama administration has resisted Israeli calls to set a deadline for Iran to stop work on its nuclear program, which Israel and Western powers suspect is designed to produce atomic weapons. Israel sees a nuclear armed Iran as a threat to its existence, and refuses to rule out military action against Iranian nuclear sites. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

Speaking Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu said international leaders who refuse to impose “red lines” on Iran have no moral right to place a “red light” on Israel. It was one of his toughest public criticisms of the U.S. position on the issue to date.

Obama administration officials repeatedly have said there is still time for diplomacy and economic sanctions to pressure Iran into stopping uranium enrichment. In recent days, they also have said that setting deadlines would not be productive.