Iran Likely To Dominate Netanyahu, Kerry Meeting

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Wednesday to review the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to discuss concern over the possibility that Iran will develop a nuclear bomb.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Today, in Rome, Israel's prime minister will once again argue against to lifting sanctions on Iran. Tehran's nuclear ambition top Benjamin Netanyahu's agenda in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

NPR's Emily Harris reports.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Netanyahu spent one minute on niceties when he appeared with Italy's prime minister yesterday, then three minutes on Iran. He said he went to Rome to speak with Kerry about the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: But equally, also to touch on something that could affect these peace talks in a way that would be overwhelming. If Iran succeeds in its quest to achieve nuclear weapons, that will be very, very bad.

HARRIS: Israeli officials say Iran is Netanyahu's single-most important item on the agenda with Kerry. Israel is not the only country raising concerns. Secretary Kerry said yesterday he has reassured Saudi Arabia that the U.S. will stop Tehran from developing a bomb.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

SECRETARY JOHN KERRY: I reaffirmed President Obama's commitment that he will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Our eyes are wide open. Actions are what will speak to us, not words, and no deal is better than a bad deal.

HARRIS: The State Department says the U.S. is in lockstep with Israel regarding Iran. But in Israel, there's concern that Netanyahu may be walking alone. Yehuda Ben-Meir of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies says Israel and the U.S. may differ on details of how to interact with Iran.

YEHUDA BEN-MEIR: I don't think there's any difference of opinion as far as the basic goal. But there may be tactical differences of opinion exactly how to go about it.

HARRIS: They have two weeks to keep talking before the next round of discussions between the U.S. and other world powers and Iran.

Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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