WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (REUTERS) – Stalled nuclear talks with Iran will be at the top of the agenda when United States President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meet next week.
“The President and Prime Minister Bennett will discuss critical issues related to regional and global security, including Iran,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement announcing the leaders’ first in-person meeting at the White House on Aug 26.
Talks between Teheran and six world powers to revive the nuclear pact ditched three years ago by Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump have stalled since they began in April.
The Israeli leader, a nationalist atop a cross-partisan coalition who took office in June, opposes the deal being revived. It views a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat.
Teheran denies seeking the bomb, though a United Nations atomic watchdog report on Tuesday seen by Reuters showed the country accelerating its enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade.
Regional tensions rose over a July 29 attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman that Israel, the US and Britain blamed on Teheran. Iran denied any involvement in the suspected drone strike in which two crew members were killed.
Conflict has also flared between Israel and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
The White House meeting will come less than three weeks after US Central Intelligence Agency director William Burns held talks in Israel with Mr Bennett on Iran.
Mr Bennett said at a news conference that the meeting will focus on Iran but the White House also touted “an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss efforts to advance peace, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians”.
The Israeli leader said he planned to come to the meeting “very focused with a policy of partnership that aims to curb Iran’s destabilising, negative regional activity, its human rights abuses, terrorism and preventing its nearing nuclear breakout”.
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