White House: Israel Distorts U.S. Position in Iran Negotiations

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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, February 10, 2015.Credit: AP

REUTERS - The White House said on Wednesday that Israeli officials had mischaracterized U.S. negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and criticized what it called "a continued practice of cherry-picking" and leaking information out of context.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is mindful of the need to keep the negotiations private and accused Israel of distorting the U.S. position.

"There's no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate," Earnest said at a news briefing. "There's no question about that."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, also accused Israel of "selective sharing of information" but declined to say what information had been cherry-picked.

"I think it is safe to say not everything you are hearing from the Israeli government is an accurate reflection of the details of the talks," Psaki said.

The negotiations between the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and Iran have reached a crucial stage, as the countries previously agreed to deliver a basic framework agreement by the end of March and a final agreement due by June 30.

Earnest would not discuss details of U.S.-Israeli consultations on Iran nuclear negotiations.

"But I think it is fair to say that the United States is mindful of the need to not negotiate in public and ensure that information that's discussed in the negotiating table is not taken out of context and publicized in a way that distorts the negotiating position of the United States and our allies," he said.  

The White House has begun to limit the scope, quality and depth of the information it shares with Jerusalem about the progress of the talks with Iran about its nuclear program, senior Israeli officials involved in the issue have told Haaretz.

The administration apparently believes that Israel and the U.S. now have a conflict of interests regarding the Iranian issue, the source said. While U.S. President Barack Obama wants to make every effort to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, Netanyahu is doing everything he can to block one. 

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