2014-03-03T194411Z_1_CBREA221ITP00_RTROPTP_2_USA-ISRAEL

At White House, Israel's Netanyahu pushes back against Obama diplomacy

Netanyahu shakes hands with Obama as they sit down to meet in the Oval Office of the White House in WashingtonBy Jeffrey Heller and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly told Barack Obama on Monday that he would never compromise on Israel’s security even as the U.S. president sought to reassure him on Iran nuclear diplomacy and pressure him on Middle East peace talks. In a White House meeting overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, the two leaders avoided any direct clash during a brief press appearance but were unable to paper over differences on a pair of sensitive diplomatic drives that have stoked tensions between them. Obama assured Netanyahu of his “absolute commitment” to preventing Iran from developing atomic weapons, despite the Israeli leader’s deep skepticism over U.S.-led efforts to reach a final international deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. But, warning that time was running out, Obama also urged Netanyahu to make “tough decisions” to help salvage a faltering U.S.-brokered peace process aimed at reaching a framework agreement with the Palestinians and extending talks beyond an April target date for an elusive final accord.

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