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White House Adviser Bolton, Netanyahu Discuss Iran ‘Aggression’

White House national security adviser John Bolton is in Israel and will travel later to Ukraine. (file photo).

White House national-security adviser John Bolton says Iran’s weapons programs will be a main topic of conversation as he meets in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In brief comments on August 19 before an initial dinner between the two, Bolton said that "the Iran nuclear weapons program, the ballistic-missile programs are right at the top of the list" of global challenges.

Netanyahu responded by saying he was looking forward to discussing "how to continue to roll back Iran's aggression in the region and to make sure that they never have a nuclear weapon."

Bolton is considered one of the leading hard-liners in the administration of President Donald Trump in dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

Trump has consistently looked to increase pressure on Tehran to bring about what his administration has called a “change in behavior” regarding its weapons programs and its alleged support for militant groups throughout the Middle East, accusations Iran denies.

In May, Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers and has reimposed sanctions that had been eased as terms of the accord.

Bolton, in an interview with ABC TV in the United States before his trip to Israel, said he planned to discuss Iran's presence in Syria with the with the Israeli leader. The United States and Israel both are vehemently opposed to Tehran activities in support of Syrian President Bashar as-Assad in that country’s civil war.

"Certainly, the objective of the United States, of Israel -- President [Vladimir] Putin said it was Russia's objective -- is to get Iran, Iranian forces, Iranian militias, Iranian surrogates out of the offensive operations they're in both Syria and Iraq and frankly, to end Iran's support for [Lebanon's] Hizballah," Bolton said.

He said Trump's move to pull out of the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions has "put a real crimp into the Iranian economy" and affected Tehran's ability to "conduct offensive operations" in the Middle East.

Bolton is also scheduled to travel to Ukraine and Geneva. He is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, on August 23 in the Swiss city.

The meeting between Bolton and Patrushev, secretary of Putin's Security Council, would be the first official follow-up to the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in July.

After Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, Patrushev was placed on the European Union's sanctions list. The United States imposed sanctions on Patrushev in April 2018.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa