Netanyahu and Zarif.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran dismissed on Saturday efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to garner support against a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran in his upcoming speech to the US Congress.
"I believe this effort is fruitless and it should not be an impediment to an agreement," AFP quoted Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Saturday.
During a press conference in Tehran with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, Zarif accused the Israeli premier of seeking to "utilize a fabricated crisis to cover up realities in the region."
Zarif said Netanyahu was attempting to torpedo an emerging agreement between the so-called P5+1 powers and the Islamic Republic, in order to "prevent peace in the region" and avert attention from issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"It is unfortunate that there is a group which sees its interests in tension and crisis," AFP quoted him as saying.
Netanyahu is schedule to leave Israel for Washington on Sunday ahead of his address to a joint session of Congress, where he is expected to deliver a critique of the nuclear negotiations.
Talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program have made substantial progress, as the White House braced for an onslaught of criticism next week from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Friday a senior US official said many hurdles remained to reaching an agreement to restrain the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions and said he did not expect one to be reached next week.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are to meet in Switzerland early next week just as Netanyahu comes to Washington.
Netanyahu's visit two weeks before an Israeli election has caused consternation in Washington and Jerusalem.
Reuters contributed to this report.