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Obama: US 'Will Always Have Israel's Back'

This article is more than 11 years old.
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Monday. (AP)
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Monday. (AP)


Washington--In a display of unity between allies who often disagree, President Barack Obama assured Israel's visiting leader Monday that the United States "will always have Israel's back," and said the U.S. and Israel agree that diplomacy is the best way to resolve the crisis over potential Iranian nuclear weapons.

"Both the prime minister and I prefer to solve this diplomatically," Obama said as he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began several hours of White House consultations. The U.S. will consider all options in confronting what it sees as the unacceptable outcome of an Iranian bomb, Obama said.

"Israel and America stand together," Netanyahu said. He added that Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to defend itself, a pointed reference to the main question hanging over Monday's high-stakes meeting: Whether to try to stop an Iranian bomb by with a military attack in the next several months.

Israel must remain "the master of its fate," Netanyahu said.

Obama will try to persuade Netanyahu to slow quickening pressure among many in his hawkish government to attack Iran's disputed nuclear development sites. Obama is trying to avert an Israeli strike that could come this spring, and which the United States sees as dangerously premature.

The president is expected to tell Netanyahu in private at the White House that although the U.S. is committed to Israel's security it does not want to be dragged into another war. Obama is unlikely to spell out U.S. "red lines" that would trigger a military response, despite Israeli pressure to do so.

Obama previewed the Oval Office meeting with a speech Sunday to American supporters of Israel, a key constituency in this election year.

Obama said he doesn't want war but insists he would attack Iran if that was the only option left to stop that nation from getting a nuclear weapon.

"Loose talk of war" only plays into Iran's hands, Obama said.


  • Margaret Talev, Congressional correspondent for Bloomberg News

This segment aired on March 5, 2012.


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