Last updated: 22 September, 2014

Obama to host Netanyahu at White House on October 1, says US official

US President Barack Obama will welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on October 1, as a US drive for a nuclear deal with Iran reaches a crucial point.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden on Monday announced the meeting, likely to highlight US-Israeli divisions over the Iranian negotiations, in a statement.

Netanyahu issued his latest public commentary on the proposed nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers on Sunday when he warned that the West must not give Tehran sanctions relief just to win its support in the campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

He said that “respected commentators in the West” were counselling a softer approach to enlist Tehran in an alliance against the militants.

“They are fighting the IS out of their own interest,” his office quoted him as telling an audience in Jerusalem.

“They are struggling over who will be leader of the Islamist world, which they seek to impose on the whole world,” he said, referring to Iran.

Israel bitterly opposed an interim deal which world powers struck with Tehran last November, paving the way for talks on a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s future nuclear activities.

Iran and the six powers — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — are meeting at United Nations headquarters on the sidelines of this week’s General Assembly.

Israel has refused to rule out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent any possibility of Tehran developing the technology for an atomic bomb.

Iran says it has only peaceful intentions.

Obama and Netanyahu have had a testy relationship throughout the term-and-a-half that the US president has spent in the White House.

A number of senior US officials blamed the Netanyahu government for the collapse of the US-brokered peace effort between Israel and the Palestinians this year.