US denies Israel deal to avoid war with Iran
The White House has denied an Israeli newspaper report that accused Washington of secretly negotiating with Tehran to keep the United States out of a future Israel-Iran war.
Israel also played down the front-page report in its biggest-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, which followed unusually public disagreement between the allies about how to tackle Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.
“It’s incorrect, completely incorrect,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said yesterday while accompanying president Barack Obama on a campaign trip in Ohio. “The report is false and we don’t talk about hypotheticals.”
Without naming its sources, Yedioth said Washington had approached Tehran through two unidentified European countries to convey the message that the US would not be dragged into fighting if Israel carried out threats to attack Iran.
Yedioth said America told Iran it should, in return, refrain from retaliating against US interests, including its military in the Gulf.
In Jerusalem, an Israeli official described the report as illogical. “It doesn’t make sense. There would be no need to make such a promise to the Iranians because they realise the last thing they need is to attack US targets and draw massive US bombing raids.”
In appearances on Sunday and yesterday, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers to set a “clear red line” for Tehran’s atomic programme that would convince Iran they were determined to prevent it from obtaining nuclear arms.
Mr Obama, who seeks re-election in November, is fighting accusations from his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, that he is lax in support for Israel.
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