Top U.S., Israeli officials discuss Iran nukes at White House

Olivier Knox

President Barack Obama's national security adviser hosted his Israeli counterpart on Monday for talks on Iran's nuclear program and the civil war in Syria, the White House said. The meeting, which was only disclosed after it happened, came amid concerns that time is running out for diplomatically defusing the standoff with Tehran.

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon met with Israel's Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror "for consultations on Iran, Syria, and a range of other regional security issues," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a written statement.

"Today's meetings were the latest in a series of regular, high-level consultations between the United States and Israel, consistent with our strong bilateral partnership, and part of our unshakeable commitment to Israel's security," Vietor said.

Obama and top aides have repeatedly said that there is still time to resolve the standoff with Iran peacefully. But the president has also cautioned that all "options are on the table"—a euphemism universally understood to refer to military action—and warned that the time for a peaceful solution may be running out. Obama is expected to be asked about his approach at a press conference on Wednesday.

During the presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney took a harder line on Iran than Obama did. The former Massachusetts governor, effectively echoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said America could not let Iran develop the ability to build a nuclear weapon. Obama said America would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.

Both men favored tightening already tough economic sanctions while making clear that they had not ruled out military action. And both politicians emphasized that America would stand with Israel.