May 28, 2018 / 2:49 PM / 3 months ago

Netanyahu to discuss Iran with French, German leaders next week

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet the leaders of France, Germany and possibly Britain next week to discuss ways to stop what he called Iran’s nuclear ambitions and regional expansionism, he said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, May 27, 2018. Menahem Kahana/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

His European tour follows the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal which the European signatories, France, Germany and Britain, have said they will stick to. Netanyahu called the pact, which lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, a “disaster”.

“I will go to Europe next week. I will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and possibly British Prime Minister Theresa May,” Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks.

“I will discuss with them halting Iran’s nuclear aspirations and also stopping Iran’s expansion in the Middle East. I will present our positions as clearly as possible. There were years when we stood alone in the face of these two threats. I think the situation has changed for the better.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said he quit the nuclear accord, completed under his predecessor Barack Obama, because it did not cover Iran’s ballistic missile program, its influence in neighboring countries, or address what happens after the deal begins to expire in 2025.

Macron has said he wants to tackle those concerns in a broader international dialogue to complement the nuclear deal.

French diplomats said Iran would be a key issue when Netanyahu visits Paris on June 5, and when he meets Merkel in Berlin.

Since Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear deal, European states have been trying to ensure Tehran receives enough benefits to persuade it to maintain the accord. Iran is pressing Europe for a package of economic measures to offset the effects of the U.S. pullout.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and John Irish in Paris; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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