Washington: US President Barack Obama reached out to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and updated him about the ongoing negotiations between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program while underscoring his strong commitment to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Obama's telephone call to Netanyahu came as the Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced trip to Geneva to hold talks with the Iranian leadership and possibly give a final shape to the agreement on Tehran's nuclear weapons program.
The White House said "the President provided the Prime Minister with an update on negotiations in Geneva and underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which is the aim of the ongoing negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran".
"He (Kerry) is participating in those talks in the hopes that he can play an instrumental role in narrowing the differences that currently exist between the P5+1 and the Iranians," the White House Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters travelling with Obama.
A day earlier Obama told a news channel that the job of the US is to put in place mechanisms where they can verify what Iranians are doing and not doing when it comes to their nuclear program.
"The negotiations taking place are not about easing sanctions. The negotiations taking place are about how Iran begins to meet its international obligations and provides assurances not just to us but to the entire world that they are not..," Obama told the NBC news channel in an interview.
However, the Republicans launched a scathing attack on Obama on the reported deal.
Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said instead of toughening sanctions to get meaningful and lasting concessions, the Obama Administration looks to be settling for interim and reversible steps. He has convened a Congressional hearing on November 13.
"A partial freeze of enrichment, as we're hearing, is not a freeze. As called for in UN Security Council resolutions, all of Iran's enrichment – the key bomb-making technology – should be ceased," he said.
Royce said the US run the risk of seriously weakening the sanctions structure painstakingly built-up against Iran over years.
"Once weakened, it will be harder to ratchet up the economic pressure on Iran than it will be for the Iranians to ratchet up their nuclear program," he said.