With Iran and its nuclear program looming over the discussions, President Obama just said at the White House that “the United States will always have Israel’s back.” The president’s comment came with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is at the White House for talks today, by his side.
For his part, Netanyahu told reporters that the U.S. and Israel stand together on policy toward Iran, The Associated Press reports.
The two leaders just held something of a photo op. Other reports on what they had to say:
– “At start of mtg w/ Netanyahu, Pres Obama reaffirms ‘unbreakable’ ‘rock solid’ commitment to Israel. Says US will always have Israel’s back. … On stopping Iran’s nuclear pgm., Pres Obama says US policy is prevention not containment. Says all US options on the table: ‘I mean it.’ … Pres Obama says there is still a window for a diplomatic solution with Iran & that both US and Israel prefer to resolve it diplomatically.” (Tweets from CBS News’ Mark Knoller.)
– After referring to the “terrible bloodshed” in Syria and the upheaval elsewhere in the Arab world, Obama said that ‘In the midst of this we have an island of democracy and one of our greatest allies in Israel. … The bond between our two countries is unbreakable.” (From the “pool” audio.)
– “Both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically,” Obama added, referring to the Iran issue. “We understand the costs of any military action.” (From the “pool” audio.)
– Netanyahu said that “Americans know that Israel and the United States share common values, that we defend common interests and that we face common enemies. Iran’s leaders know that too. For them you’re the Great Satan, we’re the Little Satan. For them, we are you and you are us. And you know something, Mr. President? At least on this last point I think they’re right. We are you and you are us. We’re together. … Israel and America stand together.”
While the two leaders spoke of unity and common interests, the talks between Obama and Netanyahu are complicated because of Iran and the issue of its nuclear ambitiions. As The New York Times has reported:
“Mr. Netanyahu … is hoping to prompt more clarity from Mr. Obama on how he sees increasingly tough sanctions and diplomacy with Iran playing out in the coming months.
“He also wants to press Mr. Obama on where his red line lies: how and when the United States will decide whether sanctions are succeeding or failing, and how committed he is to the use of force, officials and analysts following the discussions on both sides said in recent days.
“For Mr. Obama, the challenge is to deliver two competing messages. He wants to join Mr. Netanyahu in warning Iran to abandon its nuclear program or face military action, but also to press him to give time to sanctions and diplomacy and hold back his military.”
And as The Washington Post writes, 16 years after first raising the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran, Netanyahu “seems to have finally rallied the West to his cause, successfully thrusting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions to the top of the international agenda. And in his second term as prime minister, he faces what could prove to be the most critical decision of his career, weighing whether to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, possibly over the objections of his staunchest ally in Washington.”
For its part, Iran says it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes.