Chicago Sun-Times
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Obama, Netanyahu: Hour phone call Tuesday night; White House denies snub

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President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Iran and other issues in a hour-long phone call on Tuesday night, the White House announced--along with a statement that Netanyahu, contrary to news reports, never asked for a meeting with the president.

The White House briefed on the call between the two leaders as tensions with Iran are growing--talk of an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran nuclear facilities is escalating--and stories about Obama snubbing Netanyahu--now denied--present a political problem to a president who is wooing the Jewish vote.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the White House said, "President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu for an hour tonight as a part of their ongoing consultations. The two leaders discussed the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, and our close cooperation on Iran and other security issues.

"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. Contrary to reports in the press, there was never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied."

The White House was reacting to stories asserting that the White House turned down a Netanyahu request to meet with Obama while he was in the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said earlier Tuesday when asked about a meeting issued a statement about why a meeting in New York could not take place--the two men would not be at the U.N. on the same day. There is a plan for Netanyahu to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Vietor said, "The President arrives in New York for the UN on Monday, September 24th and departs on Tuesday, September 25th. The Prime Minister doesn't arrive in New York until later in the week. They're simply not in the city at the same time. But the President and PM are in frequent contact and the PM will meet with other senior officials, including Secretary Clinton, during his visit."

Though there are tensions between the two leaders, they have met every time Netanyahu has been to the U.S. --except one time; on another occasion Netanyahu was in the U.S. when Obama was on an international trip.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 11, 2012 8:18 PM.

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