- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A key senator emerged from Tuesday’s meeting with President Obama saying some lawmakers are “unsatisfied” with the administration’s proposal to begin easing sanctions on Iran in exchange for that nation halting parts of its nuclear program.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that while there’s a split among his Senate colleagues, they emerged from Tuesday’s meeting with a greater understanding of the potential deal between Iran and the international community.

“I think you probably had some folks in the room who very satisfied. I think you had some folks in the room who were very unsatisfied and then I think you had some folks who were listening to what has been said and trying to figure out the best way for Congress to move ahead,” Mr. Corker told reporters after the meeting, which lasted more than 90 minutes. “I don’t think anybody knows as to whether the sides will be able to agree to something this week.”

Mr. Corker and the Senate leadership of both parties — along with the chairmen and ranking members of the chamber’s Banking, Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence committees — sat down with the president as the administration urges patience with the new regime in Iran, hoping for a breakthrough agreement that would slow Tehran’s nuclear pursuit.

Some lawmakers have advocated imposing new economic sanctions on Iran, but the administration opposes that strategy and instead is pushing limited reductions in sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to halt key parts of its nuclear program and allow tighter inspections of its facilities.

Negotiations between Iran and the so-called “P5 plus 1” — the U.S., Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany — will resume Wednesday in Geneva, and the two sides reportedly have been nearing a deal, though many details of the potential agreement remain under wraps.

The international community’s willingness to sit down with Iranian leadership has caused concern in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said over the weekend that the U.S. and its allies must not accept an “exceedingly bad deal” just for the sake of claiming a diplomatic victory, and cautioned against trusting Iran.

The White House has downplayed any distance between the U.S. position and that of Israel, arguing that both countries share the same end goal: a peaceful end to Iran’s military nuclear program that is verifiable and permanent.

Of Israel, Mr. Corker said “there was a discussion relative to their concerns” during the meeting.

He added that it’s a near certainty the Senate won’t take up new Iranian sanctions before leaving town for Thanksgiving.

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