Israeli leader talks to Biden about Islamic State, Iran

AP , Sunday 6 Feb 2022

Israel's prime minister on Sunday congratulated President Joe Biden for last week's deadly raid in Syria that killed the leader of the Islamic State group, the Israeli premier's office announced.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn of the White House after stepping off Marine One, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. AP

In a phone call with the president, Naftali Bennett told Biden that "the world is now a safer place thanks to the courageous operation of the U.S. forces,'' his office said.

Bennett and Biden also discussed Iranian military activity across the Middle East and efforts to block Iran's nuclear program, it said.

Israel and Iran are arch-enemies, and Israel has raised vocal concerns about U.S.-led efforts to revive the 2015 international nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The deal unraveled after President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018. Israel objected to the initial deal and believes any attempts to restore it will not include sufficient safeguards to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. Israel also says any deal should address Iranian military activity across the region as well as its development of long-range missiles capable of striking Israel.

Earlier Sunday, Bennett said Israel is closely watching world powers' negotiations with Iran in Vienna, but reiterated his position that Israel is not bound by any agreement reached by them. Israel has repeatedly threatened to strike Iran if it believes it is necessary to halt the country's nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

"Anyone who thinks such an agreement will increase stability is wrong,'' Bennett told his Cabinet early Sunday. "Israel reserves its right to act in any case, with or without an agreement.''

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