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JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's prime minister has softened his criticism of U.S.-led negotiations with Iran, saying a lull in the talks has given more time to extract concessions.

Benjamin Netanyahu reacted angrily over the weekend as news came out that global powers were close to a deal with Iran. He said he "utterly" rejected the emerging deal, expected to curb some of Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for relief from painful economic sanctions.

Netanyahu's tough comments raised tensions with the U.S. and prompted Secretary of State John Kerry to say the Israeli leader's criticism was premature.

Netanyahu said Monday that the break in talks provides an opportunity to achieve a "much better deal." But he stuck to his position that a final agreement must "deny Iran a military nuclear capability."