- Title: Israel's Bennett embarks on first Washington visit as prime minister
- Date: 24th August 2021
- Summary: JERUSALEM (AUGUST 22, 2021) (REUTERS) BENNETT ATTENDING CABINET MEETING FINANCE MINISTER AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN (RIGHT) SEATED NEXT TO MINISTER OF LABOR SOCIAL AFFAIRS AND SOCIAL SERVICES, MEIR COHEN MEETING IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER, NAFTALI BENNETT, SAYING: "Iran is behaving in a bullying and aggressive manner throughout the region. I will tell President Biden that it is time to stop the Iranians, to stop this thing, not to give them a lifeline in the form of re-entering into a nuclear agreement that has already expired, it is no longer relevant even according to those who once thought it was relevant" MEETING IN PROGRESS
- Embargoed: 7th September 2021 15:35
- Keywords: Iran Israel Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett U.S. President Joe Bide USA Washington departure meeting
- Location: BEN GURION, ISRAEL/ JERUSALEM
- City: BEN GURION, ISRAEL/ JERUSALEM
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Middle East,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA002ERN3LTZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett embarked on his first visit to Washington D.C. as prime minister on Tuesday (August 24), and plans to push for a new Iran strategy, saying he will urge U.S. President Joe Biden not to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
Biden's aides hope the talks will set a positive tone for his relationship with Bennett, a far-right politician and high-tech millionaire who ended Benjamin Netanyahu's record 12-year run as prime minister in June.
This would stand in sharp contrast to years of tensions between the conservative Netanyahu, who was close to former President Donald Trump, and the last Democratic administration led by Barack Obama with Biden as his vice president.
The visit gives the U.S. administration an opportunity to demonstrate business as usual with its closest Middle East ally while it contends with the chaotic situation in Afghanistan, Biden's biggest foreign policy crisis since taking office.
The talks will be relatively low-key. The two leaders are expected to speak briefly to a small pool of reporters during their Oval Office talks but will not hold a joint news conference.
Bennett is less dramatic but publicly just as adamant as Netanyahu in pledging not to allow Iran, which Israel views as an existential threat, to build a nuclear weapon, telling a cabinet meeting on Sunday the situation was at a critical point.
"Iran is behaving in a bullying and aggressive manner throughout the region." he said.
Bennett said he would tell Biden: "This is the time to stop the Iranians, not to give them a lifeline in the form of re-entering an expired nuclear deal."
A U.S. official said Bennett's expected entreaties for the Biden administration to drop its efforts to revive the agreement are not likely to bear fruit.
To Israeli acclaim, Trump in 2018 withdrew the United States from the deal between six world powers and Iran. He deemed it too advantageous for Tehran and re-imposed U.S. sanctions.
In a report seen last week by Reuters, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had accelerated uranium enrichment to near weapons-grade.
Iran has consistently denied seeking a bomb, but the enrichment raised tensions with the West as both sides seek to resume talks on reviving their deal to curb Tehran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanction.
(Production: Dedi Hayun, Lee Marzel, Nuha Sharaf)
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