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Bolton, Netanyahu Call For 'Greater Pressure' On Iran


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) shakes hands with U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton during their meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on August 20.

Meeting in Jerusalem, White House national-security adviser John Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have called on European countries to increase pressure on Iran.

Bolton told Netanyahu on August 20 that the United States saw the "highest importance" in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and that's why President Donald Trump withdrew from the "wretched" nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

"It's why we've worked with our friends in Europe to convince them of the need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile program," Trump's national-security adviser added.

Trump and Netanyahu have been closely aligned on their approach to Iran since the U.S. president took office in January 2017.

Trump has consistently looked to increase pressure on Tehran to bring about what his administration has called a "change in behavior" regarding its weapons programs and its "destabilizing" activities in the region, accusations Iran denies.

In May, Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with six world powers and has reimposed sanctions that had been eased as terms of the accord.

Calling the agreement "disastrous," Netanyahu said that "all countries who care about peace and security in the Middle East should follow America's lead and ratchet up the pressure on Iran," in what was considered a veiled refence to European countries.

"The greater the pressure on Iran, the greater the chance that the regime will roll back its aggression," he added. "And everybody should join this effort."

European countries are seeking to save the nuclear deal and have vowed to keep providing Iran with the economic benefits it received from the accord, arguing that the agreement is working in keeping Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Bolton, who is considered one of the leading hard-liners in the Trump administration in dealing with Tehran's nuclear program, arrived in Israel on August 19 for three days of talks expected to focus mainly on Iran and its presence in Syria.

Both the United States and Israel are vehemently opposed to Tehran activities in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed since the conflict began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011.

Bolton is also scheduled to travel to Ukraine and Geneva. In the Swiss city, he is due to meet with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, on August 23 -- the first official follow-up to the July summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said on August 20 that Bolton and Patrushev, the secretary of Putin's Security Council, will "first and foremost" discuss bilateral relations and "exchange opinions on the well-known pressing global affairs."

Ties between Washington and Moscow have been badly frayed by tensions over issues including Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, its role in the wars in eastern Ukraine and Syria, and its alleged public-opinion-manipulation campaign in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

After the annexation of Crimea, Patrushev was placed on the European Union's sanctions list. The United States imposed sanctions on Patrushev in April 2018.

Following their July 16 summit in Helsinki, Trump and Putin said they had taken the "first steps" toward mending badly strained ties between the United States and Russia.

But the U.S. president drew widespread criticism after the summit, in part because he never disclosed what was discussed or decided during his two-hour-long, one-on-one meeting with Putin.

With reporting by AFP, AP, TASS, and Interfax
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