US has offered no ‘freebies’ to Iran: Obama


By Julie Pace, AP

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Exposing a rift with Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday insisted that the United States has not “given anything away” in new talks with Iran as he defended his continued push for a diplomatic resolution to the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Obama said he refused to let the talks turn into a “stalling process,” but believed there was still time for diplomacy.

His assessment, delivered at the close of a Latin American summit in Colombia, came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday had said the U.S. and world powers gave Tehran a “freebie” by agreeing to hold more talks next month.

Obama shot back: “The notion that somehow we’ve given something away or a ‘freebie’ would indicate Iran has gotten something. In fact, they’ve got some of the toughest sanctions that they’re going to be facing coming up in just a few months if they don’t take advantage of these talks.”

Still, in a news conference here, Obama warned to Iran, “The clock’s ticking.”

The U.S. believes a combination of diplomacy and crippling economic sanctions could push Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.