Obama to update top senators on Iran

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.


The president is likely to reiterate the administration's request that Congress halt imposing new sanctions on Iran as the U.S. attempts to negotiate a deal to halt the Iranian weapons program.

Last week, Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryOvernight Energy: Michigan reps reintroduce measure for national 'forever chemicals' standard |  White House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill Kerry to visit China ahead of White House climate summit CO2 tax support is based in myth: Taxing essential energy harms more than it helps MORE 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 GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP lawmaker 'encouraged' by Biden's Afghanistan strategy Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Graham: 'A full withdrawal from Afghanistan is dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous' MORE (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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Colin Powell on Afghanistan: 'We've done all we can do' MORE (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.