Biden Assures Netanyahu on Iran Sanctions

SHANNON, Ireland (Reuters) -

Vice President Joe Biden has assured Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the United States is committed to enforcing its “sanctions architecture” against Iran even as world powers provide it with some relief in pursuit of a final nuclear deal.

In four hours of wide-ranging talks during Biden’s visit to Israel for the levayah of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the vice president briefed Netanyahu on an interim agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and sought his views on efforts to reach a broader accord, a senior U.S. official said.

“It is safe to say that the issue of ensuring the continued enforcement of the sanctions architecture is an important priority for us, is an important priority for Israel and was a subject of conversation,” the official told reporters aboard Biden’s plane on the flight back to Washington.

Some U.S. officials have cited oil and banking as the core architecture of the sanctions program that has crippled Iran’s economy. Relief under the initial deal would include suspension of some restrictions on trade in gold, precious metals and petrochemicals, and in the auto industry. It also allows third-country purchases of Iranian oil to remain at current levels.

Echoing Obama, Biden also made clear to Netanyahu that Washington opposes a U.S. congressional push for new sanctions during talks on a long-term deal with Iran, the official said.

The working dinner between Biden and Netanyahu, which lasted twice as long as scheduled, also focused on renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that have struggled to make headway under the auspices of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

While Biden did not try to negotiate the “nitty-gritty” separating the two sides, the two leaders had a “strategic conversation” about how to achieve the goal of Israel and an eventual Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security, the official said.