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Netanyahu and Trump meet in the Oval Office. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

During his meeting with President Trump at the White House on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised concerns over a possible deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to build nuclear reactors in the kingdom, Israeli officials told me.

Where things stand: The officials, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said Netanyahu asked Trump not to continue with the deal, but the message from Trump and his team was that if the U.S. doesn't sell the Saudis nuclear reactors other countries like Russia or France will.

Netanyahu and his aides stressed to the White House that if they move forward with the deal, they should should insist on a Saudi commitment not to enrich uranium on their soil.

Netanyahu's office didn't deny the details in this report, telling me in a statement:

"We don't comment on the contents of private diplomatic conversations, but as Prime Minister Netanyahu has been saying for years there are many dangers in the Iran nuclear deal — one of them is the demands of other countries in the region to get the same capabilities the deal allows Iran to have — including enrichment of uranium".

Trump didn't give Netanyahu a final answer on the nuclear deal with the Saudis and the parties concluded that further talks will take place between senior officials on both sides. The White House didn’t comment for this report.

  • On Wednesday, two days after the Trump-Netanyahu meeting, Israel's minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz met in Houston with his U.S. counterpart Rick Perry, who is negotiating the deal with the Saudis. Steinitz's spokeswoman told me she can't comment on the contents of the meeting.   
  • On Thursday, Netanyahu hinted about the talks with Trump during statements to the press at the UN headquarters in New-York. Netanyahu said:
"I was asked in Washington what is Israel's position on the requests of countries to enrich uranium. Countries in the Middle East. And I said, 'Why is it that they want to enrich uranium?' And they said that the reason that they're asking to enrich uranium is because Iran has received the right to enrich uranium under the dubious nuclear agreement. The best way to prevent the nuclearization of the Middle East is to either fully fix the Iran deal, or fully nix it. This is the only way to prevent the inevitable spread of nuclear technology and nuclear weapons into the Middle East".

Last Friday, Perry led a U.S. delegation for talks with his Saudi counterpart in London. The meeting in London launched negotiations on the deal, which is worth billions of dollars to American companies. The Saudis insist on the U.S. giving them a right to enrich uranium on their soil.

Go deeper

Gunman kills 8 people in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

A screenshot of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook during a news conference Friday morning. Photo: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department/Facebook

A gunman opened fire at a FedEx warehouse facility in Indianapolis late Thursday, killing at least eight people and wounding multiple others, authorities said.

Details: "The alleged shooter has taken his own life here at the scene," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook said during a news conference early Friday.

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.