Barack Obama 'Unable to Meet' Israeli PM Netanyahu - Reuters
The office of Barack Obama say the US president will be unable to meet Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his forthcoming visit to Washington - in what many believe is a subtle snub following disagreements over Iran.
Both America and Israel have confirmed the meeting will not take place, albeit on different notes. While American officials insisted no meeting request was ever received, the Israelis said their request for a meeting was turned down.
Netanyahu, who has met Obama during all but one of his US trips since 2009, will be visiting America later in September for the UN General Assembly summit in New York. However the White House says the itineraries of the two leaders preclude a meeting on this occasion.
"They're simply not in the city at the same time," said White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor.
"Contrary to previous press reports, there was never any request for a meeting between the prime minister and president in Washington, nor was this request ever denied".
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While Obama is believed to favour a cautious approach to Iran, Netanyahu is pressing for an attack on the country in the near future - to knock out its supposedly burgeoning nuclear facility.
Hours before the US ruled out a meeting between him and Obama, Netanyahu condemned the international community for failing to take action against Iran.
"The world tells Israel: wait, there's still time. And I say: wait for what? Wait until when? Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," said the prime minister.
Later, Obama had a telephone conversation with the Israeli leader for an hour over Iran's controversial nuclear programme.
"The two leaders discussed the threat posed by Iran's nuclear programme, and our close co-operation on Iran and other security issues," said a White House statement.
"President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed that they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and agreed to continue their close consultations going forward".
Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak admitted that there are differences between the two countries over dealing with Iran. However, he added that the two countries should resolve the matters behind closed doors rather than publicly airing their views.
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