The meetings, announced in a White House statement on Sunday,
arose from talks between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month as the United States tried to
persuade a skeptical Israel to support the Iran deal.
Israel doubts whether Iran will actually give up a nuclear program
that the West believes is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.
The interim deal, achieved in Geneva last month between Iran and
major world powers, halts Iran's nuclear program in exchange for
modest sanctions relief. Over the next six months the parties are to
attempt to negotiate a comprehensive solution to Iran's nuclear
Rice, along with her deputy, Tony Blinken, and senior officials from
the departments of State and Treasury, met with Israeli national
security adviser Yossi Cohen and other Israeli officials on Thursday
"During the meetings, the U.S. team reaffirmed President Obama's
goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," the White
The series of meetings was an initial step toward fulfilling a
promise Obama made to Netanyahu in their November 24 phone call that
the United States would consult regarding the effort to forge a
comprehensive solution with Iran.
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Obama has been arguing to Israel and its supporters and to members
of the U.S. Senate that it is important to use the next six months
to test whether Iran is serious about reaching a comprehensive deal.
Some members of the Senate are eager to slap new economic sanctions
on Iran, a prospect the White House argues would upset delicate
diplomacy with Tehran.
"If at the end of six months it turns out that we can't make a deal,
we're no worse off, and in fact we have greater leverage with the
international community to continue to apply sanctions and even
strengthen them," Obama told the Saban Center for Middle East Policy
on Dec. 7.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Christopher Wilson)
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