President Obama told key Senate Democrats at a private White House meeting to refrain from slapping new sanctions on Iran.
Next week kicks off a six-month agreement for Iran to curb some of its nuclear activities — if the United States and other nations cut back some sanctions. The United States wants to piggyback on that six-month agreement to forge a longer-term deal with Iran. Mr. Obama said new sanctions will hamper those negotiations, USA Today reported.
Democrats confirmed the president did make the request.
"The president did speak passionately about how we have to seize this opportunity," Sen. Jeff Merkley said to The Associated Press. "If Iran isn't willing in the end to make the decisions that are necessary to make it work, he'll be ready to sign the bill to tighten those sanctions. But we've got to give this six months."
The White House reported on its meeting, USA Today said: "The president met with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. The group discussed their shared goals for 2014, and the president expressed his desire to continue to work together to advance a number of our priorities for the year to strengthen our economy, create jobs and build the middle class."
The White House continued: "The president has declared 2014 a year of action, and while he will continue to use his executive authority — his pen and phone — to get things done, he will also work with Congress to make progress on behalf of the American people. The president addressed a number of issues with the Caucus, including increasing the minimum wage so those Americans working hard can have a living wage, passing commonsense immigration reform, strengthening education and promoting a number of other jobs and growth measures."
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