Pelosi says she told Netanyahu speech could hurt Iran talks


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, said she told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his speech to a joint session of Congress could hurt ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the March 3 address, which will focus on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, could lower the chances for the United States and world powers to reach an accord with Iran to limit the program.

She also criticized the speech’s timing, coming two weeks before Israeli elections on March 17, and said the speech should have been coordinated in advance with President Barack Obama and congressional leadership.

“Such a presentation could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance,” Pelosi said. “That’s my view, and I shared that with the prime minister today.”

Pelosi said speeches to Congress were “a serious, big honor,” and noted that Netanyahu has spoken to Congress twice.

“That it should be extended two weeks before an election in a country, without collaboration among the Leaders of Congress, and without collaboration with the White House, is not appropriate,” she said. “It is not appropriate.”

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