Obama Calls Netanyahu, Offers Reassurance in Bid to Allay Growing Israeli Unease on Iran Deal

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GENEVA - Against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Israel and the U.S. over the deal being forged between delegates of Iran and the P5+1 in Geneva, U.S. President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in an attempt to assuage his outspoken misgivings about the developments.

The White House issued a press release stating Obama provided Netanyahu with an update on details of the talks, and reassured him that the U.S. is strongly 'committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which is the aim of the ongoing negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran.'

Netanyahu repeated his concerns that the deal being hammered out was a deeply flawed one, which would ease pressures being placed on Iran and bring about a collapse to the sanctions being levelled against it.

The call was made a few hours after a harsh meeting between Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, which was held at Ben Gurion Airport ahead of Kerry's delayed departure from Israel. During the meeting, Netanyahu expressed strong protest of the crystallizing deal between Iran and the six powers.

Following their meeting, Netanyahu held a press conference in which he called upon Kerry not to sign a deal with Iran at this round of talks.

Earlier on Friday,  the White House rejected Israel's criticism of a possible deal, calling 'any critique of the deal is premature.' "There is no deal," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Iranian FM: Meeting 'positive and useful'

A five hour trilateral meeting between Kerry, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was concluded Friday night in Geneva. On their way to the Intercontinental Hotel, the three avoided reporters' questions. Kerry's only comment was a laconic 'We are working hard and there is much to work on.' Zarif called the meeting 'positive and useful.'

Several experts on nuclear weapons and sanctions were also in attendance, which was aimed at hammering out a final agreement draft.

The three will be joined by their counterparts from Russia, China, the U.K, Germany, and France on Saturday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives at his hotel after the meeting's conclusion.Credit: Reuters
Kerry gives a thumbs-up as he leaves his hotel in Geneva on November 8, 2013.Credit: AFP