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Netanyahu in Washington to stop nuclear deal with Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Washington to stop a "bad" nuclear deal with Iran. The visit has caused discord with US President Barack Obama.

Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday in an attempt to stop what he termed a "bad" nuclear deal with Iran. The Israeli prime minister was scheduled to

speak in front of Congress

in an effort to stall an agreement easing sanctions on Tehran in return for not developing nuclear weapons.

A framework is to be agreed by March 31 and the negotiating sides are expected to sign a comprehensive agreement by June 30 this year.

Netanyahu, who termed his visit a "fateful, historic mission," angered the White House and Democrat leaders because the Congress speech was set up without Obama's consent and therefore violated diplomatic protocol.

"The prime minister of Israel is welcome to speak in the United States obviously and we have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than in any time in history…We don't want to see this turned into some great political football," US Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC television prior to his arrival in Switzerland for

talks with Iran's foreign minister

.

'Congress wants to support Israel'

John Boehner in Washington

John Boehner: supporting a trusted ally

"We know a great deal about the emerging agreement...In our view, it is a bad agreement," a member of Netanyahu's accompanying team in the US told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

The nuclear agreement with Iran and Israel's intervention could become a

point of contention with Obama's opponents in the Congress

. "What I do wonder is why the White House feels threatened because the Congress wants to support Israel and wants to hear what a trusted ally has to say," Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, told CBS television.

The deal between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group, including US, France, China, Russia, Britain, and Germany, envisages an easing of sanctions on Tehran with safeguards to ensure it does not develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear facilities are purely for energy and medical research purposes.

mg/bk (AFP, AP)

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