White House Denies Rejecting Obama-Netanyahu Meeting
Amid a flurry of public statements and disagreements between the U.S. and Israel regarding how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat in recent days, the White House denied reports that it declined a request made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu to meet with President Obama, while Netanyahu is in the United States later this month.
According to numerous reports in Israeli media, Netanyahu’s office reached out to the White House about a meeting when the prime minister is in the U.S. for two and a half days during the UN General Assembly in New York this month. While Netanyahu was willing to meet the president in Washington, DC, the White House reportedly rejected his proposition due to Obama’s schedule, the newspaper said.
“Contrary to reports in the press, there was never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied,” the White House said Tuesday night.
Reports of the White House declining the meeting came after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday raised the eyebrows of Israeli officials by saying the U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations to be “by far the best approach” to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. Additionally, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey recently said he does not wish to be “complicit” in a potential Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The White House said in a statement that Obama spoke with Netanyahu for an hour Tuesday night, including a discussion on the Iranian threat. The two leaders “reaffirmed that they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and agreed to continue their close consultations going forward,” according to the statement.