Israel’s Netanyahu to discuss Iran deal with Pompeo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on April 29, 2018
AFP Sebastian Scheiner

Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to discuss the Iran nuclear deal and Tehran’s “growing aggression” when he meets visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later Sunday.

Pompeo, sworn in only on Thursday, met Saudi leaders on Sunday as part of his first trip since taking office.

He was due in Israel and Jordan later in the day.

“I think that it is important that he is coming to Israel as part of his first visit outside the US as secretary of state,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“I will discuss with him developments in the region, Iran’s growing aggression and –- of course -– the nuclear agreement with Iran, about which there will be a decision soon.”

US President Donald Trump is due to decide on May 12 whether to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran, putting in peril the landmark 2015 accord over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Netanyahu has repeatedly called for the deal with Israel’s main enemy to be altered or scrapped, though most world powers see it as key to preventing Tehran from obtaining atomic weapons.

On Friday, after talks with NATO allies in Brussels, Pompeo appeared to suggest that Trump plans to nix the nuclear deal.

Netanyahu has also warned that his country will not accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in neighbouring Syria, where Tehran backs President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

On April 9, seven Iranian personnel were among 14 people killed in a strike on the T-4 airbase in Syria. Regime allies Iran and Russia blamed Israel for the attack.

Trump’s recent promise to withdraw troops from Syria led to concern in Israel, which wants Washington to help limit Iran’s influence there.

Pompeo’s visit also comes ahead of the deeply controversial move of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, planned for May 14.

Palestinian leaders have frozen contact with the White House over the move, and Pompeo is not due to meet with any of them during his trip. 

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