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Obama to meet with senators on Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama will meet with top Senate leaders in a bid to persuade them to delay consideration of a bill that would enhance Iran sanctions.

In an emailed statement to reporters, Bernadette Meehan, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said Obama would be meeting Tuesday with the leaders of the Senate Banking, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, as well as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The president, the statement said, would “provide an update on the status of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran before the next round of talks begin later this week in Geneva.”

P5+1 refers to the major powers – Russia, Germany, the United States, China, France and Britain – negotiating with Iran to make more transparent its alleged nuclear weapons program.

The Senate is considering legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this summer that would intensify existing sanctions on Iran.

The major powers, at the behest of the United States, renewed talks last month with Iran, which is seeking sanctions relief in exchange for decelerating and making more transparent a nuclear program that it says is peaceful.

The Obama administration fears that new sanctions will scuttle the talks. Israel favors enhanced sanctions, as do a number of pro-Israel groups, saying that the additional leverage is likelier to extract a deal that would ensure Iran does not advance toward a nuclear weapon.

The Obama administration is sending a delegation to the next round of talks scheduled to begin on Thursday in Geneva.

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