The White House has denied press reports that President Barack Obama has rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand to meet with him in New York later this month.
“No such request was made or rejected,” the White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
Obama and Netanyahu spoke for an hour Tuesday night and "they reaffirmed the two countries' commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon", the White House said in a statement.
They agreed to continue "close consultations going forward" regarding Iran.
But US and Israeli officials confirmed that the US President would not meet with Netanyahu when the Israeli leader travels to New York for the UN General Assembly later this month. Both sides cited scheduling issues and rejected suggestions that Netanyahu had been snubbed.
Tommy Vietor said President Obama's schedule in New York will not permit a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister. The two leaders are "simply not in the city at the same time,” he said, adding however that Netanyahu will meet with other senior US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
President Obama is scheduled to addresses the General Assembly on September 25 and Netanyahu on September 28.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu urged the US administration to set "red lines" for Iran but the Washington refused.
"The world tells Israel, 'Wait, there's still time.' And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?'" Netanyahu said at a press conference with Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Borko Borisov in Jerusalem.
"Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” the Israeli Prime Minister said, adding that peaceful methods against Iran “are not working” as Tehran is getting close to acquiring a nuclear bomb.
"If Iran knows that there is no 'deadline', what will it do? Exactly what it's doing. It's continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining a nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs."
The US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "it is not useful" to set deadlines or declare "red lines." She noted that Mr. Obama has stated unequivocally that the United States will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. But she declined to elaborate, saying she did not want to conduct diplomacy in public.
The US administration has stressed repeatedly that it believes "time and space" remains to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
A recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has intensified concerns that Iran's uranium enrichment and other efforts aim to move toward building a bomb.
According to some analysts, by withholding a meeting with Netanyahu, the Democratic president could alienate some Jewish and pro-Israel voters as he seeks a second term in the November 6 election.
His Republican rival Mitt Romney has already accused Obama of being too tough on Israel and not hard enough on Iran.