Obama makes case for Iran deal to Congress and Arab leaders

Obama reiterates the United States' "enduring commitment to work with partners to address Iran's destabilizing activities in the region."

By REUTERS
April 4, 2015 01:23
1 minute read.
Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The White House on Friday pressed its case for a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program, expressing confidence in hammering out final details as President Barack Obama reached out to leaders in Congress, where US lawmakers remain cautious.

Obama called the four top leaders in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate to discuss the framework agreement announced on Thursday by negotiators in Switzerland, a spokesman said. The agreement lays the groundwork for a final deal to be laid out by a June 30 deadline.

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"We feel good," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. "There's a lot of work to be done, but we are confident we can get those details in place."

The president also placed calls to the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

"He highlighted that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," the White House said in a statement. "He also reiterated the United States' enduring commitment to work with partners to address Iran's destabilizing activities in the region."

The White House also sought to soothe concerns in Israel about the deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said it demanded that any final agreement with Iran acknowledge his state's right to exist.

Asked about that demand, Schultz said he had not seen the specific request but was aware of Israel's ongoing concerns.

"We understand his position," Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One. "The president would never sign onto a deal that he felt was a threat to the state of Israel."

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a televised speech, on Friday hailed the framework as "a first step towards productive interactions with the world."

Schultz, asked about Rouhani's comments, said he understood Tehran's need to sell the deal to Iranians but that the United States sees the deal as one focused on Iran's nuclear program.

"The concerns we have with Iran outside of the nuclear program remain just as vibrant ... yesterday as they are today."

As part of his domestic sales pitch, Obama spoke to Republican House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Schultz said.


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