Netanyahu denies split with US over speech

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Monday that his upcoming speech to the U.S. Congress was a slight to President Barack Obama, and insisted the U.S.-Israeli alliance remains strong.

“You are here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the U.S. relationship is not only premature, but it is wrong,” the Israeli leader told delegates to a pro-Israeli conference in Washington.

Netanyahu is due to address Congress Tuesday to lobby against ongoing US efforts to reach a deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear program.

His visit to Washington has been criticized as a breach of diplomatic protocol: He was not invited by Obama and his speech will oppose White House foreign policy.

But Netanyahu told the annual AIPAC policy conference that the disagreement over the Iran talks would not harm the enduring alliance.

“My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the office that he holds. I have great respect for both,” he said.

“I deeply appreciate all the President Obama has done for Israel: Security cooperation, intelligence sharing, support in the UN and much more.”

Meanwhile, the White House denied reports that it will curb U.S. aid to Israel in response to a bitter fight over Netanyahu’s bid to scuttle landmark negations with Iran.

Israeli media has suggested the Obama administration could trim some of the roughly $100 billion in existing aid and drag its feet on requests for more help with programs like the Magic Wand missile intercept system and the Arrow 3 weapon.

“The report is false” said Nation Security spokesperson Bernadette Meehan.

Obama has refused to meet Netanyahu during his visit the U.S. capital.