WASHINGTON – With talks set to resume over Iran’s nuclear program, President Barack Obama worked to build support at home Tuesday for negotiations and to ward off any move instead for new sanctions.
Obama made his case in a two-hour closed meeting with key U.S. senators from both parties and later in public before a previously scheduled meeting with CEOs. Talks are set to start anew today in Geneva.
As the Obama administration has pursued those negotiations, pressure has mounted from Israel and from many in Congress against a short-term deal that would ease sanctions.
The White House said Obama had made it clear in his meeting with the senators “that achieving a peaceful resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is profoundly in America’s national security interest.”
The president said later that sanctions had forced Iran to the negotiating table and it was time to test whether the regime was ready to rejoin the world community.
Israel and Saudi Arabia don’t trust Iran and are alarmed over the prospect of a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement and any reduction of sanctions. But Obama said the most powerful sanctions against Iran’s oil, banking and financial services sectors would stay in place.