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December 10, 2007

Obama says diplomacy with Iran could include “the prospect of joining the World Trade Organization”

The first question of the NPR Democratic Debate (transcript) dealt with President Bush’s claim that the NIE report, which said Iran halted nuclear weapons production in 2003, does not change anything and that Iran still poses a threat. In such a context this question was asked,

Do you agree with the president's assessment that Iran still poses a threat? And do you agree that the NIE's news shows that isolation and sanctions work?  For all of you — and let's go left to right across the radio dial — do you agree with the president's assessment that Iran still poses a threat? And do you agree that the NIE's news shows that isolation and sanctions work?

Obama’s response:

Well, I think Iran continues to be a threat to some of its neighbors in the region, so they're still funding Hamas, they're still funding Hezbollah, and those are things we have to be concerned about. But it is absolutely clear that this administration and President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology. And that's been the problem with their foreign policy generally. They should have stopped the saber-rattling, should have never started it, and they need now to aggressively move on the diplomatic front.

I have said consistently since the beginning of this campaign that it is important for the president to lead diplomatic efforts, to try to offer to Iran the prospect of joining the World Trade Organization, potential normalized relations over time, in exchange for changes in behavior. That's something that has to be pursued.

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