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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama to host Benjamin Netanyahu at White House

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White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,John Kerry,Iran,Israel,Syria,PennAve,United Nations,Benjamin Netanyahu

President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House later this month, spokesman Jay Carney announced Tuesday.

Carney said Netanyahu would meet with Obama on Sept. 30 while he is in the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

Netanyahu said earlier Tuesday that Iran would be at the top of his agenda.

“I intend to focus on the question of stopping Iran's nuclear program, an actual halt to the nuclear program," the Israeli leader said. "And until this is achieved, the pressure on Iran should be intensified and not eased."

Netanyahu also pressed for the United States to strike Syria after an August chemical weapons attack attributed to strongman Bashar Assad’s regime. Obama ultimately delayed a vote on using force in Syria, instead backing a diplomatic solution that calls for Assad to turn over his stockpile of chemical weapons to the international community.

Netanyahu has expressed growing concerns that an Iranian nuclear program would further destabilize the Middle East.

However, Obama recently warned that Iran should not be emboldened by his decision to call off a strike on Syria.

“What the Iranians understand is that the nuclear issue is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue,” Obama said during an interview this week with ABC. “The threat against Iran — against Israel — that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests. A nuclear arms race in the region is something that would be profoundly destabilizing.”

The two leaders are also likely to discuss the revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which Secretary of State John Kerry has said is a top priority.

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