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Obama: Time running out for Iran talks

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(JTA) — Time is running out for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, President Obama said.

"I believe there is a window of time to solve this diplomatically, but that window is closing," Obama told reporters Sunday after discussing Iran with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Seoul, which is hosting a nuclear security summit this week.

Iran has said it is open to new negotiations with world powers about its nuclear program, which the Islamic Republic insists is peaceful despite international suspicions that it has secret military designs.

Israel has made a veiled threat to attack Iran pre-emptively if it deems diplomacy a dead end. Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said that Israel insists the new negotiations stop Iran’s uranium enrichment, remove its stocks of the potential bomb fuel and dismantle its fortified enrichment plant near Qom. Iran has ruled out such conditions.

Meridor, speaking Saturday to Israel’s Channel Two television, voiced cautious optimism in the prospects for U.S.-led diplomatic pressure on Tehran. He declined to discuss an Israeli military option, saying such talk inadvertently helped the Iranians by driving up the price of the oil they export.

Meridor did, however, sound encouraged by Obama’s recent statement about U.S. resolve to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

"He said for the first time that he is taking a military option into account," Meridor said. "In other words, he ruled it in, after [previously saying] he doesn’t rule it out."

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