President Biden on Monday promised outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on his watch.
Mr. Biden’s remarks came during an Oval Office visit with his Israeli counterpart. The visit was largely ceremonial and a way for Mr. Biden to say farewell to Mr. Rivlin before the Israeli president’s term expires next month.
The meeting comes amid concerns in Israel over Mr. Biden’s efforts to revive the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.
Former President Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, but Mr. Biden has sought to re-enter the agreement. However, progress between the White House and Tehran has moved slowly with Iran insisting the U.S. remove all economic sanctions.
Before leaving Israel, Mr. Rivlin signaled that he would press Mr. Biden about returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Mr. Biden told Mr. Rivlin that his commitment to Israel’s self-defense is “ironclad” and “unwavering.”
The meeting also came one day after the U.S. carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against two Iranian-backed militias that the Pentagon says are responsible for drone strikes against American personnel in Iraq.
Mr. Biden defended the airstrikes in remarks before he met with Mr. Rivlin, the first high-ranking Israeli official to meet at the White House with Mr. Biden since he took office.
“I directed last night airstrikes, targeting sites used by the Iranian-backed militia group responsible for recent attacks on U.S. personnel…and I have that authority under Article II,” he said.
Article II of the Constitution grants the president the authority to protect U.S. service members in self-defense of the nation.
Mr. Rivlin’s seven-year term as president will come to an end next month. He will be succeeded by Isaac Herzog, who was elected to the position by the Knesset in early June.
While in Washington, Mr. Rivlin will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and lawmakers from both parties. He will also travel to New York and meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Israelis also elected Naftali Bennett to replace former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Biden said he intends to host Mr. Bennett at the White House very soon.
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