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Obama phones Corker to talk Iran

Obama phones Corker to talk Iran
© Greg Nash
President Obama called Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerIt's time for Biden's Cuba GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand MORE on Wednesday to outline his case for a nuclear deal with Iran that has entered the final stages of negotiations. 
 
The phone call comes amid a White House effort to court Corker (R-Tenn.), who is working to assemble a veto-proof majority for a bill allowing Congress to review any Iran deal — something the White House says will kill the talks. 
 
Press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama told Corker “this principled approach to diplomacy is the best way for us to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
 
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Even though the two share “obvious differences” on the talks, Obama said he “has a lot of respect for the way Corker has approached the situation,” according to Earnest.   
 
Corker’s committee is set to vote Tuesday on the bill, which would give Congress 60 days to review a nuclear agreement with Iran before any congressional sanctions are lifted. 
 
White House officials want Congress to hold off on any vote on the Iran deal until at least June 30, the deadline for negotiators to reach a final agreement. 
 
The Tennessee Republican has been a vocal critic of the talks and has insisted Congress should have a say in any deal. 
 
But the White House views Corker as someone it can work with, given his centrist tendencies and willingness to deal with Democrats in Congress.
 
Corker was one of seven GOP senators who did not sign a controversial letter to the leaders of Iran warning them that Congress could invalidate a nuclear pact. 
 
The Foreign Relations chief scored a victory when Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), next in line to become Senate Democratic leader, reiterated he would back his legislation. But other potential Democratic supporters have wavered in the wake of staunch pushback from the White House. 
 
Obama and Corker did not negotiate the terms of his legislation, Earnest said. 
 
In an interview with The New York Times this weekend, Obama expressed hope that Congress could vote on a nonbinding measure on the Iran agreement. 
 
But Earnest on Wednesday would not say whether there are any changes to the legislation the White House could accept. 
 
“He hoped language like that could be developed, but I’m not aware of any at this point,” he said.