© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about Afghanistan, from the East Room of the White Home in Washington, U.S. August 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


By Trevor Hunnicutt and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden advised Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in White Home talks on Friday that he was placing “diplomacy first” to attempt to rein in Iran’s nuclear program but when negotiations fail he can be ready to show to different unspecified choices.

After a one-day delay as a result of a lethal suicide bombing in Kabul throughout the chaotic U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, Biden and Bennett held their first assembly looking for to reset U.S.-Israeli relations and slim variations over find out how to take care of Iran’s nuclear developments.

Tensions difficult relations between Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was near former President Donald Trump, and the final Democratic administration led by Barack Obama with Biden as his vice chairman.

However the assembly, the primary since Biden and Bennett took workplace this yr, was eclipsed by Thursday’s assault outdoors Kabul airport that killed at the least 92 folks, together with 13 U.S. service members, confronting Biden with the worst disaster of his younger presidency.

“The mission there … is harmful and now it is include a big lack of American personnel, but it surely’s a worthy mission,” Biden advised reporters after his one-on-one talks with Bennett.

U.S. forces serving to to evacuate Afghans determined to flee new Taliban rule had been on alert for extra assaults.

In short remarks earlier than reporters had been ushered out of the Oval Workplace, each leaders touched on Iran, one of many thorniest points between the Biden administration and Israel, however principally they papered over their disagreements.

Biden mentioned he and Bennett mentioned “the risk from Iran and our dedication to make sure Iran by no means develops a nuclear weapon.”

“We’re placing diplomacy first and we’ll see the place that takes us. But when diplomacy fails, we’re prepared to show to different choices,” Biden added, with out providing specifics.

Bennett, a far-right politician who ended Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister in June, was anticipated to press Biden to harden his method to Iran and again out of negotiations aimed toward reviving a world nuclear take care of Tehran that Trump deserted.

U.S.-Iran negotiations have stalled as Washington awaits the following transfer by Iran’s new hardline president.

“I used to be completely happy to listen to your clear phrases that Iran won’t ever be capable of purchase a nuclear weapon,” Bennett advised Biden. “You emphasised that you will strive the diplomatic route however there’s different choices if that does not work out,” he added, additionally stopping in need of figuring out the probabilities.


Bennett has sought to maneuver on from Netanyahu’s combative public fashion and as a substitute handle disagreements behind closed doorways between Washington and its closest Center East ally.

However he has been simply as adamant as Netanyahu was in pledging to do no matter is important to forestall Iran, which Israel views as an existential risk, from constructing a nuclear weapon. Iran constantly denies it’s looking for a bomb.

Bennett advised reporters on the White Home that Israel has developed a “complete technique” to maintain Iran away from nuclear breakout and cease its “regional aggression.”

Alluding to Israel’s threats of navy motion and the billions of {dollars} in U.S. navy support it receives, Bennett mentioned: “We’ll by no means outsource our safety. It is our duty to deal with our destiny, however we do thanks for the instruments … you’ve been giving us.”

The go to gave Biden a chance to reveal enterprise as traditional with a key accomplice whereas grappling with the aftermath of the Afghan assault. His dealing with of the wrapping-up of the U.S. navy presence there after 20 years of conflict has not solely harm his approval scores at house but in addition raised questions on his credibility amongst each pals and foes overseas.

On the Israeli-Palestinian battle, Biden and Bennett stay far aside. Biden has renewed backing for a two-state resolution after Trump distanced himself from that longstanding tenet of U.S. coverage. Bennett opposes Palestinian statehood.

Biden made a quick reference to the problem, saying he wished to debate “methods to advance peace and safety and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Bennett didn’t point out the Palestinians in his remarks.

The consensus amongst Biden’s aides is that now isn’t the time to push for a resumption of long-dormant peace talks or main Israeli concessions, which might destabilize Bennett’s ideologically numerous coalition.

However Biden’s aides haven’t dominated out asking Bennett for modest gestures to assist keep away from a recurrence of the fierce Israel-Hamas combating within the Gaza Strip that caught the brand new U.S. administration flat-footed earlier this yr.

The U.S. administration has additionally emphasised that it opposes additional enlargement of Jewish settlements on occupied land.

Bennett, 49, the son of American immigrants to Israel, has been a vocal proponent of settlement constructing.

The delay within the White Home assembly signifies that Bennett, an Orthodox Jew who doesn’t journey on the Sabbath, will stay in Washington till after sunset on Saturday.