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Netanyahu Urges World To Keep Pressure On Iran


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama yesterday here in Washington. This comes just days after an historic phone call between President Obama and the president of Iran, the first such contact in more than three decades. Netanyahu is urging the United States and the world to keep up the pressure on Iran and to not trust what he calls Iran's sweet talk and blitz of smiles. Netanyahu will now take that message to New York, where he'll be speaking to the United Nations General Assembly later today. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Last year, Netanyahu pulled out a cartoon image of a bomb and literally drew a red line that he said Iran mustn't cross without risking an Israeli military strike. But this year's speech comes amid a renewed focus on diplomacy. And in the wake of some surprising high-level contacts between the U.S. and Iran, Netanyahu is skeptical.


PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Iran's conciliatory words have to be matched by real actions.

KELEMEN: The Israeli prime minister told reporters at the White House that he believes Iran is only coming to the table because there's a credible military threat and tough sanctions in place.


NETANYAHU: I also believe that if diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place. And I think they should not lessened until there's verifiable success.

KELEMEN: President Obama is reassuring the Israeli leader that the U.S. understands words are not sufficient. But Obama - who called Iran's President Hasan Rouhani last week, in the highest-level contact in decades - also wants to test these new openings in diplomacy.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We enter into these negotiations very clear. They will not be easy, and anything that we do will require the highest standards of verification in order for us to provide the sort of sanctions relief that I think they are looking for.

KELEMEN: Negotiations that include the U.S. and other world powers will begin later this month in Geneva. Iran's new president says he wants sanctions eased as his country tries to clear up concerns about what he calls a peaceful nuclear program. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

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