By Justin Sink - 11/18/13 11:33 AM EST
President Obama will meet with top senators on Tuesday to discuss progress in negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons program, according to a White House official.
The president will meet with members of the Senate leadership, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Banking, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
The meeting is intended to "provide an update on the status of the P5+1 negotiations [with the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany] with Iran before the next round of talks begin later this week in Geneva," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that new sanctions "could destroy the ability to be able to get agreement" and "actually wind up setting us back in dialogue that's taken 30 years to achieve," according to CNN.
Kerry and Vice President Biden, as well as chief negotiator Wendy Sherman and David Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department, briefed senators on the negotiations during meetings on Capitol Hill last week.
Still, the administration has struggled to unify support for its negotiating stance, with Israel largely denouncing the proposed deal for Iran to temporarily halt its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said earlier this month that he was fearful "we're going to end up creating a North Korea kind of situation in the Middle East.”
“The Israelis are apoplectic about what we're doing,” he said on CNN's "State of the Union." “I've never been more worried about the Obama administration's approach to the Middle East than I am now.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that "resolving this diplomatically is the best way to resolve it."
"It is important for Congress to reserve its ability to legislate for the moment when it is most effective in order to give the current P5+1 negotiations the best chance to make real progress in achieving our shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Carney said.
While Hayden and Carney both said that Senate leadership had been invited to the meeting, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he had not been.
"We have not been invited, and in fact have been told it’s just the chairmen/ranking members—not leadership," said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart.