13:57 GMT25 February 2020
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    US Senator John Barrasso stated that US Republican lawmakers are ready to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before US Congress on Tuesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US Republican lawmakers are ready to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before US Congress on Tuesday, but question whether US President Barack Obama’s truly supports Tel Aviv, US Senator John Barrasso said in a statement on Monday.

    “While the prime minister [Netanyahu] won't have a meeting at the White House, he will have a supportive audience on Capitol Hill,” Barrasso said. “[Netanyahu] will receive a warm welcome from members of Congress who are concerned about Israel's security and value our important relationship.”

    Barrasso accused Obama and his administration of “turning their back” on Netanyahu, despite claiming earlier in his 2012 presidential campaign of having “Israel’s back.”

    US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner had invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3.

    The invitation has stirred up controversy after the White House accused Boehner of violating protocol, but Boehner argued he wished to give Netanyahu a chance to express his viewpoint on the Iran nuclear negotiations.

    The Israeli leader has been a strong opponent of a deal between Tehran and international mediators that would ease up pressure on Iran in exchange for guarantees it will not develop nuclear weapons.

    “Apparently, the president [Obama] is aiming for a final deal that suspends sanctions on Iran and does not constrain its nuclear program any more than before the interim agreement […],” Senator Barrasso said. “The [Obama] administration has also undermined Israeli security when it comes to Middle East peace negotiations with the Palestinians.”

    The White House had stated earlier that Obama would not meet Netanyahu to avoid making an impression of interfering in Israel's politics prior to the March 17 elections there. US Vice President Joe Biden also has said he would not attend Netanyahu's speech due to prior travel commitments.

    Meanwhile, The United States, along with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China and Germany — known as the P5+1 group — are still in the midst of negotiations with Iran on its contested nuclear program.

    The latest deadline for the P5+1 group and Iran to sign a comprehensive agreement ensuring that Tehran will not develop nuclear weapons has been set for July 2015.

    The UN Security Council and a number of countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran for its alleged development of nuclear weapons, despite Iran repeatedly claiming its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes only.


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