WASHINGTON — President Obama will host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Nov. 9 in their first face-to-face meeting since their rupture over the international nuclear agreement with Iran, the White House said Wednesday.
Mr. Obama invited Mr. Netanyahu to talk about the way forward now that the Iran agreement has cleared obstacles in Congress. The president has offered to find ways to bolster Israeli security against any efforts by Iran to undermine the Jewish state, but until now Mr. Netanyahu had refused to talk about that to avoid implicitly accepting the deal.
“The president looks forward to discussing with the prime minister regional security issues, including implementation of the” agreement with Iran “and countering Tehran’s destabilizing activities,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary.
Mr. Earnest said the president also wanted to discuss Israeli-Palestinian disputes and “a two-state solution,” which Mr. Netanyahu this year said was not possible during his term in office.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu, never close, grew even more estranged this year as the president and his counterparts from five other world powers neared a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for easing international sanctions. Mr. Netanyahu came to Washington to voice his objections in a joint meeting of Congress and Mr. Obama refused to meet with him while he was in town, citing coming Israeli elections.
Mr. Obama has called Mr. Netanyahu several times since then to try to reassure the Israeli leader that the agreement would effectively block an Iranian nuclear weapon over the next decade or more and to reaffirm American commitment to Israeli security. Mr. Netanyahu has not been convinced, saying the agreement would assure an Iranian bomb, not the other way around.
Mr. Earnest said that despite the disagreement over the deal, the relationship between the two longtime allies remains intact. “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel as well as the unprecedented security cooperation, including our close consultations to further enhance Israel’s security,” he said.
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(via NY Times)