Netanyahu on Trump-Rohani Meeting: 'I Don't Tell the President Who to Meet'

As long as I'm prime minister, Iran won't have nuclear weapon, Netanyahu says

Benjamin Netanyahu leaves Downing Street, in London, Britain September 5, 2019.
Hannah McKay/Reuters

LONDON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he doesn't tell U.S. President Donald Trump who to meet, but should Trump decide to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, he would present a more assertive and rational approach than those presented so far.

Speaking to reporters in London, Netanyahu said that as long as he is prime minister, Iran won't have nuclear weapon. "This isn’t an empty slogan, and it isn’t tactical," Netanyahu said. 

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"I can’t tell you if and when talks between Trump and Rouhani will take place, but Trump will go into them in a more combative and more sober mood that what we’ve had until now... Obviously, I don’t tell the U.S. president when to meet or with whom," Netanyahu said.

>> Read more: In London, Netanyahu and Johnson talk Iran and two-state solution  Netanyahu, don't interfere with Trump's diplomatic moves toward Iran | Editorial     

in addition, Netanyahu criticized French President Emmanuel Macron's remark at Monday's G7 summit that Trump and Rohani may meet in the coming weeks. 

"I think that inviting Zarif to the summit while Iran is planning to attack us is inappropriate, and I told him that when he called me several days ago," Netanyahu said. 

Earlier on Thursday Netanyahu met with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at No. 10 Downing Street, two weeks before Israel's election.

"I’m here for talks focused on increasing the pressure on Iran and preventing its entrenchment in these parts. This necessarily requires coordination with the United States, and also with Russia, and later, I’ll also speak with President [Vladimir] Putin," Netanyahu said.

Expressing his intention to counter Iran's attempts "to carry out actions against us," Netanyahu said that "The more they escalate their attempts, the more we escalate our efforts to prevent this, and there’s been an increased effort over the past few weeks and days."

During the brief half-hour meeting between the two leaders, Johnson and Netanyahu agreed on the need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Downing Street said.

"I think Britain’s position is against Iran’s aggression in the region and Johnson gives Israel complete support. We also spoke about the need to increase the pressure on Iran," Netanyahu told reporters. 

"I’ve also spoken at length with Vice President [Mike] Pence about this issue.

"This nuclear deal is a terrible one. It paves Iran’s way to unlimited uranium enrichment, which it’s developing for a nuclear weapon, and it doesn’t cover all the other issues," Netanyahu added.

Responding to claims that he orchestrated a snap visit in London out of electoral considerations, Netanyahu said: "those delusional claims are a lie. I don’t profiteer with our security and we don’t play with the timing of attacks on our enemies.