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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama to brief key senators on Iran nuclear talks

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Politics,White House,Congress,Barack Obama,President,Banking and Finance Committee,Foreign Relations Committee,John Kerry,Iran,PennAve,State Department,Meghashyam Mali,Hassan Rouhani,Benjamin Netanyahu,Nuclear Weapons,Armed Services Committee

President Obama will meet with key senators on Tuesday to update them on the status of nuclear talks with Iran, the White House announced.

"The President will meet with leadership and the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Banking Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Armed Services, and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to provide an update on the status of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran before the next round of talks begin later this week in Geneva," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Washington Examiner on Monday.

The meeting comes as the White House looks to avert a new push on Capitol Hill for additional sanctions on Iran, which Obama has said could derail fragile negotiations.

The Obama administration is working on a short-term deal with Iran which would exchange some limited, temporary sanctions relief for Tehran freezing aspects of its nuclear program.

But the diplomatic push has sparked controversy, with many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle fearing that the administration is undermining the international sanctions regime. Lawmakers are weighing additional sanctions to heighten pressure on Tehran to abandon any nuclear ambitions.

The administration, though, has launched a full court press, urging Congress to give more time for diplomacy to work.

Obama has said that pursuing diplomacy with Iran will cost the U.S. “nothing” and vowed that sanctions could be quickly ramped up if Iran fails to honor its commitments.

Secretary of State John Kerry has also briefed members of the Senate Banking Committee and Vice President Joe Biden briefed senators by phone about the Iran talks.

The White House received a boost last week when Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she opposed new sanctions.

"Tacking new sanctions onto the defense authorization bill or any other legislation would not lead to a better deal. It would lead to no deal at all," Feinstein said in a statement. She added that she was "baffled by the insistence of some senators to undermine the P5+1 talks."

But key allies, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are still skeptical of the administration’s diplomatic push.

Netanyahu on CNN on Sunday warned against making a short-term deal with Iran.

"I think the problem with a partial deal is that you reduce the sanctions, and in this case ... you let out a lot of pressure," he said.

"Iran is practically giving away nothing," Netanyahu added. "It's making minor concessions, which they can reverse in weeks, and you endanger the whole sanctions regime that took years to make."

White House correspondents Brian Hughes and Susan Crabtree contributed to this report.

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