Obama, Netanyahu start delicate Iran talks

President Barack Obama Monday launched key talks on the Iran nuclear standoff with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that there was still a "window" of opportunity for sanctions to work.

Greeting Netanyahu in the Oval Office, Obama sought to calm the Jewish state's fears by saying that his commitment to Israel's security was unshakeable.

"Our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid," he said. "The United States will always have Israel's back."

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But Obama said the first choice was still for a peaceful resolution.

"We do believe there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue," he said, but reiterated that Iran must make a choice that it has so far not made.

"I reserve all options," he added. "When I say all options are on the table I mean it."

The delicate talks come with speculation rife about a possible Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites, Netanyahu is believed to be seeking guarantees on when Washington would move against the nuclear program.

Israel says that if sanctions against Iran fail to thwart its nuclear ambitions his country reserves the right to its own preemptive strike against the Islamic republic.

"My supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate," said Netanyahu in remarks at the start of the meeting, as he thanked Obama for his support for Israel's right to self defense.

by Mushtaq Mojaddidi © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Mar 5, 2012