One day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address a joint session of Congress on the threat Iran poses to Israel and the world, President Barack Obama called the prime minister’s arrival and speech a “distraction” to talks with Iran.
Obama made the comment in an interview with Reuters’ Jeff Mason Monday afternoon.
“Your administration has described Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plans to address to Congress on Iran tomorrow as ‘destructive,'” Mason told Obama. “What damage has really been done?”
“I don’t think it’s permanently destructive,” Obama replied. “I think that it is a distraction from what should be our focus. Our focus should be how do we stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Obama piled on Netanyahu, who addressed the AIPAC conference Monday morning, saying the Israeli prime minister has been wrong about “all sorts of claims” in the lead-up to a possible deal with the Iranians.
“Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting 50 billion dollars worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement,” Obama said. “None of that has come true.”
“It has turned out that in fact, during this period we’ve seen Iran not advance its program,” Obama added. “In many ways, it’s rolled back elements of its program.”
In has speech to AIPAC, Netanyahu talked up the relationship between the two allies, saying it is “stronger than ever” while adding that he is not speaking before Congress Tuesday to “disrespect” President Obama or the office of the presidency.