Obama briefs Netanyahu on Iran nuclear deal amid criticisms

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Following Israeli frustration over a proposed interim nuclear deal between Iran and international negotiators, the U.S. president on Friday briefed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the talks.

Barack Obama called Netanyahu after the White House had signaled frustration with the Israeli premier, who had earlier complained that the proposed deal was “very bad.”

Negotiators from key world powers and Tehran strove for a breakthrough in talks in Geneva that offer the best hope in years of ending the atomic showdown peacefully.

The talks will stretch into a third day on Saturday in Geneva, U.S. officials have confirmed, according to Agence France-Presse.

P5+1 foreign ministers – from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany -- are pursuing an agreement to freeze Iran’s nuclear program and offer some modest relief from the sanctions that have crippled the Islamic Republic’s economy. But the details of the new deal have not been made public yet.

Meanwhile, the White House said that Obama called Netanyahu with an update on the talks between the P5+1 group of world nations and Iran in the Swiss city.

“The president provided the prime minister with an update on negotiations in Geneva and underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” a statement said.

“The president and prime minister agreed to continue to stay in touch on this issue,” the statement said, adding that Obama reiterated his commitment to preventing Tehran getting a nuclear bomb.

Earlier, in a sign of irritation with Netanyahu, the White House earlier rejected angry Israeli criticism of the possible deal.

“There is no deal. Any critique of the deal is premature,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said aboard Air Force One, according to AFP.

Netanyahu had earlier warned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who had stopped in Tel Aviv on the way from Jordan to Switzerland for the talks, that he was offering Iran “the deal of the century.”

“This is a very bad deal. Israel utterly rejects it,” Netanyahu said, vowing that Israel would not be bound by any agreement and reserved the right to do whatever is necessary to defend itself -- a clear allusion to a pre-emptive military strike.

“I reminded him (Kerry) that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. And the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal,” Netanyahu said.

“Iran is not required to take apart even one (uranium enrichment) centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years.”

(With AFP)

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