Confrontation with Iran Dominates Trump-Netanyahu Talks

Confrontation with Iran Dominates Trump-Netanyahu Talks

Tuesday, 6 March, 2018 - 07:15
US President Donald Trump meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on March 5, 2018. (Reuters)
Washington, Tel Aviv - Heba El Koudsy and Asharq Al-Awsat
The confrontation with Iran took center-stage during a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. Trump also spoke of a “good chance” to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, but he was vague on how to resume negotiations between them.

Trump revealed that he may attend the opening of his country’s embassy in Jerusalem in May after he had recognized the city as the capital of Israel in December. He added that American-Israeli ties were “at their best.”

Netanyahu praised Trump’s “historic” decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while also stressing the need to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“If I had to say what is our greatest challenge in the Middle East to both our countries, to our Arab neighbors, it’s encapsulated in one word: Iran,” Netanyahu said. “Iran must be stopped. That is our common challenge.”

Netanyahu told Israeli reporters that Iran had been a big focus of talks with Trump, which he said ran an hour longer than scheduled.

Commenting on the chances of achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis, Trump told reporters: “It would a great accomplishment if we were able to achieve peace. This has been a major challenge we have been dealing with for 25 years. No one has been able to take the step to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but I did.”

He said that he believed that the Palestinians wanted to return to the negotiations table, saying that there can be no peace if they do not.

This is the hardest deal. After years of hatred, it would be great if we can achieve peace, Trump continued. “We are working hard to achieve that,” he said without elaborating.

A White House official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Trump-Netanyahu talks focused primarily on the Iran nuclear deal, which does not cover its ballistic missile program or its support for militias in the region.

Netanyahu addressed how to overcome European objections over the possibility of amending the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

The official ruled out the possibility of new announcements being made over the peace process, adding that there are no signs that indicate that negotiations could be resumed any time soon.

“We are however committed to peace and we have a plan that we will announce at the appropriate time,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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