Netanyahu arrives at the UN.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent over four hours in meetings with top Obama administration officials on Monday, including Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and special envoy to the Middle East peace process Martin Indyk.
US President Barack Obama participated in Netanyahu’s meeting with Biden.
As expected, aides said the meetings focused on coordinating Israeli and US policy aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, as well as on the ongoing crisis in Syria and negotiations with the Palestinians.
A senior State Department official said that Netanyahu’s bilateral meeting with Kerry focused “primarily on the ongoing final-status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians and how the United States, in its facilitating role, can continue to help these talks succeed.”
Biden said his meeting with the prime minister and the president lasted for twoand- a-half hours at the White House.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the secretary conveyed that on Iran’s nuclear program, “no deal is better than a bad deal, and that’s what our bar will be.”
In a briefing with reporters, Psaki also said that Israel had been in “close contact” with the US over the arrest of Ali Mansouri, an alleged Iranian spy who was arrested casing the US embassy in Tel Aviv.
“I’m not going to characterize the timeline of when we did or didn’t, just that we knew about it before it was public,” Psaki said.
In the evening, Netanyahu met with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez, who will be a pivotal voice in an upcoming debate over whether to tighten sanctions on Iran through the coming P5+1 negotiations.
Netanyahu is calling on the White House to continue its sanctions regimen despite a new diplomatic effort from the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, which has so far resulted in the first direct contact between the two nations’ leaders in over three decades.