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Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu set to meet, with Iran high on the agenda

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on his way to the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama — and pledging, as relations appear to warm between the United States and Iran, to “tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk.”

Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama are to meet late Monday morning in the Oval Office, mediates. On Friday, Obama placed a call to the president of Iran, the first direct conversation between the leaders of those two countries since 1979. The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has indicated interest in a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says that the program is peaceful, but the West suspects — and Israel insists — that Iran has designs on a nuclear bomb.

Obama last week directed Secretary of State John Kerry to work with U.S. allies, Russia and China to pursue a deal with Iran. Obama said that the United States and Iran could set out on a “long road towards a different relationship.” Netanyahu suggested on Sunday, as he boarded a flight from Israel to the United States, that Iran would be a point of contention in his talk with Obama.

“I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles,” the Israeli prime minister said. “Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world, and, of course, it is vital for the security of the state of Israel.”

On Israel Radio, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said Monday that there was nothing to worry about. “We have the same main objectives,” he said, speaking in Hebrew. “Our leaders agree on those objectives. The main objective is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Rouhani was in New York last week for the same meeting and struck a more moderate tone than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some foreign policy experts termed it a charm offensive, but some Israelis have derisively called it the “smiley campaign.”


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