Obama to make personal appeal to senators on Iran sanctions

President Obama is preparing to meet Tuesday with key senators as part of a full-court press by the administration to ensure that hawks on the Hill hold off on any new sanctions for Iran while delicate talks are under way.

A Senate Democratic leadership aide confirmed to Fox News that Obama will meet with members of the Senate leadership, as well as the chairmen and top Republicans on several key committees. The sitdown at the White House comes on the heels of visits by Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Biden on the same issue.

The administration is concerned that Congress might press ahead with a new round of tough sanctions on Iran. While lawmakers think additional sanctions could help make Iran more pliable at the negotiating table over its nuclear program, the administration argues it would have the opposite effect.

Negotiators are to meet again later this week in Geneva in hopes of concluding a deal but Secretary of State John Kerry declined to predict if they would reach an agreement.

"I have no specific expectations with respect to the negotiations in Geneva except that we will negotiate in good faith and we will try to get a first-step agreement and hope that Iran will understand the importance of coming there prepared to create a document that can prove to the world that this is a peaceful program," he said.

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    Lawmakers from both parties appear to be getting impatient, particularly after Iran temporarily stepped away from talks earlier this month. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., has floated the idea of another round of sanctions, but has said he wants to wait before deciding whether to move forward until he hears from the administration.

    If Johnson's committee does not act, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has predicted lawmakers might include Iran sanctions as an amendment to a defense policy bill being taken up in the Senate this week.

    Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wrote a letter to Obama on Friday raising concerns about the current proposal being discussed in Geneva.

    "Over the last few weeks, we were assured that the administration was pursuing an interim step agreement with Iran that would 1.) freeze and set back Iran's nuclear program, and 2.) not provide any significant sanctions relief to Iran," they wrote. "Those assurances appear inconsistent with reports of what the administration actually offered Iran in Geneva last week."

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been very public with his opposition to the current proposal. In an interview with CNN's "State of the Union," he argues that Iran is finally "on the ropes" but any deal could risk "crumbling the sanctions regime."

    "It's getting just an enormous deal from their point of view and it's giving practically nothing in return. They're keeping their infrastructure to make nuclear bombs," he said.

    Kerry said Monday that Netanyahu has "every right" to voice his opposition. But he stressed that the United States is deeply committed to Israel's security and sought to assure Netanyahu, ordinary Israelis and pro-Israel members of Congress who are opposed to the proposed agreement.

    "Nothing that we are doing here, in my judgment, will put Israel at any additional risk," Kerry said. "In fact, let me make this clear, we believe it reduces risk."

    As for the particulars of Tuesday's discussion, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says Obama will update senators on the negotiations before talks between Tehran and world leaders resume this week in Geneva.

    Fox News' Ed Henry and Kara Rowland and The Associated Press contributed to this report.