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Netanyahu gives public blessing to potential Trump-Iran meeting

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to the press as he meets with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

LONDON — Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a briefing with reporters Thursday that he does not rule out a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the near future, stressing that he has full confidence in Trump’s negotiation positions.

Why it matters: This was the first time Netanyahu has spoken publicly about the possibility of direct talks between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime. Netanyahu was very concerned about a possible meeting between Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the G7 summit in France last week, and frantically tried to get Trump on the phone to stop the two leaders from meeting.

  • In private, Israeli officials have stressed their concern about U.S.-Iran talks, since Netanyahu sees Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal as a signature foreign policy achievement. A loosening of Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran could create tension with Israel.

Netanyahu said in the briefing, which followed a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that he is confident that Trump is still committed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands from the Iranians to be included in any potential nuclear deal. He added that the Trump administration’s position on Iran is aligned with the Israeli government’s.

  • The prime minister stressed: "A meeting between Trump and Rouhani is a possibility. I don’t tell the president of the U.S. who he should meet and who he shouldn’t meet. But I am sure that Trump will take a much more open-eyed and a tougher stance against Iran."

Go deeper: More details on Netanyahu's effort to block Trump-Zarif meeting