POLITICS: PennAve

Obama to host Benjamin Netanyahu at White House in March

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Israel,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Benjamin Netanyahu,Foreign Policy

President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on March 3, with the Mideast peace talks likely topping the leaders' agenda.

“The President looks forward to discussing with the prime minister progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, developments in Iran, and other regional priorities,” said the White House in a statement announcing the visit. "Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of security issues."

The meeting between the two world leaders comes as Secretary of State John Kerry is pressuring Israel and the Palestinians to sign on to a framework agreement for continued peace talks.

Kerry’s push, though, has met with resistance with hardliners on both sides, urging Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to not concede on key issues.

The current round of peace talks are slated to end in April, but Kerry is hopeful that a framework can be reached to prolong negotiations.

Obama and Netanyahu are also at odds over Iran, with Israel — and other key U.S. allies — expressing skepticism over an interim nuclear deal with Tehran.

The agreement, which was finalized in January, offers Iran limited sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran freezing aspects of its nuclear program and opens the door to negotiating a longterm deal. But critics say the deal has undermined the sanctions regime and does nothing to roll back Iran’s nuclear development.

Obama has said all options remain on the table and that he will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

Netanyahu, though, has been a vocal critic of the deal, saying that Iran had received the “deal of the century.”

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