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Netanyahu pays homage to US Congress

07 march 2012, 12:53
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ©AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ©AFP
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu courted Israel's backers in the US Congress on Monday following talks on Iran with President Barack Obama and ahead of a trip to Capitol Hill, AFP reports.

Speaking to around 13,000 delegates at a conference of the top pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, Netanyahu asked them to pay homage to the solidly supportive US legislature.

"I want to ask the 13,000 supporters of the state of Israel to stand up and applaud the representatives of the United States," he said, prompting a standing ovation.

"Democrats and Republicans alike, I salute your unwavering support for the Jewish people," he added.

Netanyahu will meet Congressional leaders on Tuesday, winding up a two-day visit to the United States in which he held crucial talks with Obama earlier on Monday over how best to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The Obama administration has signaled that it does not yet believe Iran has taken a decision to develop a nuclear weapon, or that the time is right for military action, preferring to give biting new sanctions time to work.

However Israel, which sees a possible Iranian nuclear weapon as a threat to its existence, believes that Iran may be on the cusp of "break out" capacity -- the moment when it could quickly produce weapons-grade uranium.

In his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Netanyahu sought to minimize the differences between himself and Obama.

"(Obama) stated clearly that all options are on the table and that American policy is not containment," Netanyahu said.

"Israel has exactly the same policy. We're determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, we leave all options on the table and containment is definitely not an option."

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