Israel’s Netanyahu urges Obama to keep sanctions in place on Iran
Barack Obama (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (R) - REUTERS/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged President Barack Obama on Monday to keep sanctions in place against Iran and to even tighten them if Tehran continues its nuclear advances during a coming round of negotiations with the West.

Seeking to ease Israeli concerns about U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran, Obama said Tehran must prove its sincerity with actions, not just words, and vowed to keep all options on the table, including the possibility of a military response.

Netanyahu arrived for the Oval Office meeting today just three days after Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone in the highest-level contact between the countries in more than three decades. The call fueled hopes for a resolution of Iran’s decade-old nuclear standoff with the West.

“Netanyahu does not care that he is the only one ruining the party,” an Israeli official said earlier.

Obama and Netanyahu have a history of difficult encounters, including a blowup in the Oval Office in 2011 when Netanyahu famously lectured the president on Jewish history.

Iran strategy has strained relations between them before, most notably last year when Netanyahu pushed back against U.S. pressure on Israel not to launch its own pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.

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