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A bilateral discussion between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu

On the afternoon of March 3, 2014, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met in the Oval Office to discuss matters which will affect America and Israel. President Obama outlined the contents of the meeting.

Bilateral Meeting
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

We're going to have a wide range of issues, obviously, to discuss given what’s happening on the world stage and the Middle East, in particular. So we’ll spend some time discussing the situation in Syria and the need for us to not only find a political solution to the tragic situation there, but also to address growing extremism inside of Syria, the spillover effects on Lebanon and Jordan, in particular.”

Their discussion was also to cover, counter-terrorism and continuing efforts to stabilize an incredibly dangerous environment. In consideration of a legitimate political transition, Egypt was also a matter of concern. Their meeting would certainly cover Iran, and the commitment of both countries to make sure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

President Obama said that he still believes in a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, and they would discuss how to achieve peace.

Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed concerns to the president about Iran wanting to develop nuclear weapons, with consideration to the threats they have made to Israel.

Now, Mr. President, if that goal can be achieved peacefully and through diplomacy, I can tell you that no country has a greater stake in this than Israel. Because, as you know and I'm sure you’ll appreciate, Iran calls openly for Israel’s destruction, so I'm sure you’ll appreciate that Israel cannot permit such a state to have the ability to make atomic bombs to achieve that goal. We just cannot be brought back again to the brink of destruction. And I, as the Prime Minister of Israel, will do whatever I must do to defend the Jewish state.”

The prime minister addressed the president about the activity in Ukraine, stating that the initial punishments against Russia do not seen effective. He questioned what leverage America had over Russia and whether America was concerned about getting Russia out of Crimea, or was the concern that Russia would move into eastern Ukraine. President Obama answered “all of the above”. President Obama said that he had been talking to Leaders across Europe, and that there was world unification in recognizing Russia’s violation.

I spent the weekend talking to leaders across Europe, and I think the world is largely united in recognizing that the steps Russia has taken are a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Ukraine’s territorial integrity; that they’re a violation of international law; they’re a violation of previous agreements that Russia has made with respect to how it treats and respects its neighbors. And, as a consequence, we got strong statements from NATO, from the G7, condemning the actions that Russia has taken. And we are going to continue these diplomatic efforts during the course of this week.”

President Obama said his concern is that the Ukrainian people will be able to control their own lives. He explained that Russia has strong ties to the Ukraine so their reaction is understandable. But Russia, cannot put its soldiers on the ground and violate world recognized principles. He also said that Russia is on the wrong side of history on this.

The president continued by saying John Kerry is traveling to Kyiv to show support for the Ukrainian people, and to offer economic assistance. He also said if Russia continues on the path they're on, the world will isolate Russia and hurt their economy and status in the world. The president suspended preparations for the G8 summit. John Kerry mentioned a range of issues yesterday. We are looking at several steps we can take.

President Putin, and the Russian government must answer this question. Is their concern that the rights of all Ukrainians are respected? According to President Obama, if the answer is yes, we should be able to set up international monitors and broker a deal that is satisfactory to the Ukrainian people -- not to the United States, not to Russia, but to the Ukrainian people and deescalate the situation. Russia can resort to diplomacy or to force. They have 2 paths they can take. President Obama concluded by speaking about congress.

One last point I would make on this: I’ve heard a lot of talk from Congress about what should be done, what they want to do. One thing they can do right away is to work with the administration to help provide a package of assistance to the Ukrainians, to the people and that government. And when they get back in, assuming the weather clears, I would hope that that would be the first order of business. Because at this stage there should be unanimity among Democrats and Republicans that when it comes to preserving the principle that no country has the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked, we should be able to come up with a unified position that stands outside of partisan”

Source: The White House/Office of the Press Secretary

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