Netanyahu, Johnson meet in London with Iran taking center stage
PM says he will raise Iranian nuclear ambitions in talks with British counterpart, American defense secretary, calls on world leaders to shun Tehran regime after Trump says he is open to meeting with Rouhani at UN General Assembly this month; Johnson tells Netanyahu that he wants to discuss the Two State Solution
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his British counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Thursday, for talks that the Israeli leader said would center on Iran's nuclear ambitions, its decision to accelerate uranium enrichment and the prospects of talks between the Iranian and American presidents.
"I will discuss all of these issue with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during my snap visit to London," said Netanyahu as he prepared to leave Tel Aviv for London. "These are important matters for the State of Israel at all times, but especially now.
As the two met, Johnson told Netanyahu that he wants to discuss with him the Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and Netanyahu replied that they will discuss that matter as well.
Netanyahu urged world powers not to open a dialogue with Iran, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he may meet his Iranian counterpart to resolve a crisis over Tehran's nuclear program and sanctions against it.
"This is not the time to hold talks with Iran. This is the time to increase the pressure on Iran," Netanyahu told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport before boarding his flight to the UK.
Netanyahu's comments marked rare public discord between the right-wing Israeli leader and Trump on the Iranian nuclear issue. Netanyahu had previously counselled France against its own outreach to Iran.
On Wednesday, Trump left the door open to a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York, saying: "Anything's possible. They would like to be able to solve their problem."
Tehran has rejected any negotiations with Washington unless Trump drops sanctions he imposed after withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, an agreement Netanyahu also opposed.
Iran has said that, starting on Friday, it would begin developing centrifuges to speed up the enrichment of uranium, which can produce fuel for power plants or for atomic bombs. The Iranians deny seeking the latter.
The centrifuge move would be Iran's latest reduction of its commitments to restrict nuclear projects under the 2015 deal.
Netanyahu called this "another violation, another provocation by Iran, this time in the realm of its quest for nuclear weaponry ... This joins Iran’s aggressive acts against international shipping and against countries in the region, as well as its efforts to carry out murderous attacks against the State of Israel, efforts that have not ceased," he said.