WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama said at the end of his White House meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday that the United States has not given up the option of a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
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America was entering talks with Tehran "very clear-eyed" and was ready to test Iranian President Hassan Rohani’s overtures, the U.S. president said.
"We have to test diplomacy," Obama said. "We have to see if in fact they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions.”
Obama added, “Anything we do will require the highest standards of verification in order for us to provide the sort of sanctions relief that I think they are looking for.” The president also said, “We take no options off the table,” using a phrase understood as a code for military action.
Obama and Netanyahu were seen smiling after their meeting and their remarks sounded a theme of agreement and coordination. Obama seemed determine to calm Israeli fears that the United States was liable to succumb to what has been termed Rohani’s “charm offensive.”
Netanyahu said after the meeting that he appreciated Obama’s declaration that the words coming from Tehran would have to be backed by action.
"We say in Hebrew that the bottom line is important - and the bottom line is that Iran does not get nuclear weapons," he said. “I appreciate deeply that you have made clear that you remain committed to this goal.”
After their meeting, Netanyahu and Obama had lunch with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. Afterward Netanyahu held separate meetings with Biden and Kerry, and attended a farewell event for outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the United State Michael Oren on Capitol Hill. Netanyahu then flew to New York to prepare for his address to the UN General Assembly today. He is scheduled to speak at around 8 P.M. Israel time.
Netanyahu’s address, the closing speech of the General Assembly, is expected to focus on the Iranian nuclear program and on the negotiations with the Palestinians. He will then do a series of interviews with the American media tomorrow and Thursday before flying back to Israel, where he is expected to land Friday afternoon.