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Biden met with Mossad director Yossi Cohen on Friday, per a senior Israeli official. Photos: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images; HEIDI LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the director of Israel's foreign intelligence service, Yossi Cohen, on Friday that the U.S. has a long way to go in talks with Iran before it agrees a return to full compliance of the 2015 nuclear deal, per a senior Israeli official briefed on the talks.

State of play: Cohen, who has been director of the Mossad since 2016, laid out Israel’s position on the issue, telling Biden it would be a mistake for the U.S. to return to the deal without improving it first. Biden assured Cohen that the U.S. will continue to seek Israel's input in the future.

Between the lines: A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council said Cohen’s meeting at the White House Friday was with adviser Jake Sullivan and other national security officials. The spokesperson said Biden “dropped by to express condolences for the tragedy at Mount Meron."

  • But a senior Israeli official disputed that description, saying the meeting Between the Mossad director and U.S. president wasn’t “a drop in,” and was not connected to the Mount Meron stampede, but was a pre-scheduled meeting specifically with the president to discuss Iran.

The meeting took place on Friday before noon, right after the phone call between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which Biden offered condolences for the disaster.

  • The meeting lasted around an hour, the Israeli official said. Cohen was the only person to attend it from the Israeli side. Biden, Sullivan and CIA director Bill Burns attended from the U.S. side.
  • The White House declined further comment on the story.

Go deeper

Aug 6, 2021 - World

Hezbollah fires rockets at Israel for first time since 2006 war

A Hezbollah flag flies on the Lebanon side of the Israel-Lebanon border. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty Images

Hezbollah on Friday fired 19 rockets from southern Lebanon toward Israeli military outposts on the border between the two countries. Most were intercepted by the Iron Dome system and there were no casualties, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Why it matters: This is the first time Hezbollah has fired rockets on Israel and publicly taken responsibility since the 2006 war. It's a significant escalation in tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border in recent weeks.

Updated 3 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."