US President Barack Obama defended his "close" relationship with Israel in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, firing back at suggestions from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that the president has been weak with allies.
"I have conversations with (Israeli) Prime Minister Netanyahu all the time," said Obama. "I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu's insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race."
The president rejected the idea that he feels pressure from Netanyahu, dismissing as noise the Israeli leader's calls for the U.S. to lay out a "red line" that Iran's nuclear program mustn't cross to avoid American military intervention.
"When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people," Obama said. "And I am going to block out any noise that's out there. "
He added: "Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply."
Romney has repeatedly accused Obama of "throwing Israel under the bus."
In a separate interview on CBS, the Republican candidate attacked the president's decision not to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu during this week’s annual UN General Assembly in New York. He called it a mistake that "sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends."
The White House has said scheduling precluded a meeting between the two leaders who won't be in New York at the same time.