Tuesday, September 11, 2012

White House denies Obama refused to meet Netanyahu

JERUSALEM — President Barack Obama will not receive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the US later this month, both sides said on Tuesday, amid growing tensions between the allies over Iran's nuclear programme.

Netanyahu, who will be attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, had asked for a meeting with Obama, proposing to travel to Washington for it, an Israeli official told AFP.

"So far the response has been that Obama's very tight schedule does not allow such a meeting," the official said.

The White House too insisted that it was a matter of scheduling.

The announcement, coming shortly after Netanyahu rebuked the US for refusing to set a clear "red line" for Iran to avoid military action, represents a new low in the uneasy relationship between the two leaders.

Both Israel and the US suspect Iran is seeking at least the capability to build an atomic bomb but they are at odds over how best to stop that.

Over the past week, Netanyahu has repeatedly driven home the need to lay down a "clear red line" for Iran in order to avoid military action.

But Obama's administration, which is suggesting there is still time to allow sanctions to take effect, is flatly refusing to do so. Read More