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Obama warns against ‘extra chest-beating’ over Iran

US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has warned against “extra chest-beating” with regard to Iran’s nuclear energy program and underscored the importance of diplomatic channels to resolve the issue.

At an off-record Thursday meeting with some two dozen American Jewish leaders at the White House, Obama stated that he does not believe in “extra chest-beating” and emphasized that there is still an opportunity for a “diplomatic solution” to the standoff, the Jewish figures, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Haaretz.

The meeting comes in the lead-up to Obama’s visit to Israel on March 20, which will be his first since taking office in 2009.

Obama reportedly pointed to the rifts between the US and Israeli views concerning Iran but he noted that those divisions “are not as big as the differences of opinion inside Israel itself.”

The US president, however, reaffirmed his resolve to leave all options on the table with regard to Iran and noted that White House’s policy on Iran’s nuclear energy program is prevention and not containment.

Israel has repeatedly and openly threatened Iran with a military attack over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program, while the US has reiterated that it will not take any option off the table, including a military assault, over the program, which Washington and Tel Aviv claim may include a military component.

Iran has steadfastly rejected the allegations and promised a crushing response to any military ventures against it.

At the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington DC on March 4, US Vice President Joe Biden made a veiled threat against the Islamic Republic of Iran, saying the US does not want to start a war with Iran but that the window for diplomacy is closing.

Over the past two months, high ranking US officials including Biden and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland have expressed Washington’s willingness to hold bilateral talks with Tehran.

However, only four days after Biden made an offer of negotiations at the 49th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 2, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions to prevent Iran from gaining access to earnings garnered from its crude exports.

On February 7, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei slammed Washington’s dual track policy, saying “You should know that pressure and negotiations do not go together, and the [Iranian] nation will not be intimidated by such things.”

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