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White House defends Pres. Obama's Mideast policies.

WASHINGTON, March 29 (KUNA) -- White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Sunday defended the Obama administration approach to the crises in the Middle East, and said critics, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner, should specify if they favor sending U.S. combat troops into conflict zones or advocate bombing Iran to prevent that country from developing a nuclear weapon. In an appearance on ABC's "This Week," Earnest was told that Boehner said the United States "has an anti-war president. We have no overarching strategy to deal with the growing terrorist threat." In response, Earnest said if Boehner "thinks that U.S. troops should be on the ground in Yemen fighting the Houthis, or that we should re-occupy Iraq, or that the United States should bomb Iran to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon, then he should have the courage of his convictions to actually say so." "The fact is, the President at every turn has taken steps by building the international community support for policies that actually are in the best interests of the United States," Earnest said. "And whether that is bringing the international community to the negotiating table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, or building a coalition of more than 60 countries, including a large number of Arab countries, to launch air strikes against ISIL, to try to eliminate the extremist threat that exists in the Middle East, these are steps that the President has taken consistent with our national interests," Earnest said. Obama "does not believe it is in the best interests of the United States to commit more U.S. ground troops to a large-scale ground combat operation in Iraq or in Syria --that if we work with our international partners, we can do a better job of actually protecting the interests of the United States," Earnest said. In a CNN "State of the Union" interview, Boehner, who is about to travel to Israel, said he continues to have "serious doubts" that an agreement to limit the Iranian nuclear program will be reached by the Tuesday deadline, and that additional sanctions will be placed on Iran "very quickly" by the U.S. Congress if no deal is made. In a "Fox News Sunday" interview, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who retired last summer after serving for two years as director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, said the Obama administration has "almost a policy of willful ignorance. And to me, we have some major problems that we are dealing with, and here we are talking to Iran about a nuclear deal with this almost complete breakdown of order in the Middle East." "We have to face the reality that we are in right now, and that reality is there is a sectarian war (in the Middle East)," Flynn said. "We have to make sure that we step back and understand the full breadth and scale and scope of what is happening in the Middle East before we cut a deal with Iran (on its nuclear program)," he said. "I think it is dangerous." In an ABC "This Week" interview, Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, expressed reservations about the ability of an agreement to be reached with Iran on its nuclear program. "A lot is going to depend upon whether Iran backs down on a couple of points," Royce said. "One is they want this deal (limits on its nuclear program) lifted after 10 years, the caps lifted after 10 years. The second point, they do not want inspections of some of their military facilities where they have done this (enriched uranium) research." Lastly, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency "have a list of 12 questions that they want Iran to answer on nuclear modeling, on explosive tests, 1,000 pages of documents about their program on a nuclear warhead," Royce said. "And so far, Iran has only agreed to answer half of the first question." (end) rm.ibi

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Mar 29, 2015
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