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Israeli newspaper: US offered Israel advanced weaponry in exchange for delaying Iran attack

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Obama and Netanyahu have a frosty relationship, but meddling in each other's elections doesn't seem to work. (AP) (AP2011)

The US offered to give Israel advanced weaponry -- including bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes -- in exchange for Israel's agreement not to attack Iranian nuclear sites, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Thursday.

President Barack Obama reportedly made the offer during Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week.

Under the proposed deal, Israel would not attack Iran until 2013, after US elections in November this year. The newspaper cited unnamed Western diplomatic and intelligence sources.

Netanyahu said Monday that sanctions against Iran had not worked, adding that "none of us can afford to wait much longer" in taking action against Iran's controversial nuclear program.

However, Netanyahu told FOX News Channel on Wednesday that he did not think war with Iran was inevitable. He added that the only way to deter Tehran was to advocate carrying out a serious military strike against the Islamic Republic.

"The paradox is that if they actually believe that they are going to face the military option, then you probably will not need the military option," Netanyahu said.

The US also believes there is still a "window of opportunity" for the dispute to be resolved diplomatically.

Obama told reporters during a White House news conference Tuesday that the US would apply pressure to Iran, "even as we provide a door for the Iranian regime to walk through" to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.

The President had met Netanyahu in the Oval Office the day before, where he reaffirmed his "unprecedented commitment" to Israel's security in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, the US and other world powers accepted an offer from Iran's chief nuclear negotiator to resume talks on its nuclear program.

Replying to a letter from Saeed Jalili, sent last month, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposed the talks be resumed "at a mutually convenient date and venue as soon as possible."

Ashton chairs the group of so-called P5+1 countries, comprising the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany.