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US presidential candidate calls for more emphasis on diplomacy with Iran
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US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Friday that he would personally negotiate with Iran and pursue a chance to establish peaceful bilateral relations should he be elected as president.

"There is the potential at least for us finding ways of peacefully resolving some of our conflicts, and that effort has not been attempted," Obama said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show. 

Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama gestures while speaking during a political debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 30, 2007. He said on Friday that he would personally negotiate with Iran and pursue a chance to establish peaceful bilateral relations should he be elected as president.

The Illinois senator called for greater emphasis on negotiation with Iran.

"And if we don't make that attempt, then we're going to find ourselves continuing on the path that (President George W.) Bush and (Vice President Dick) Cheney have set," he said.

If being elected, he would offer economic incentives to Iran as long as its leaders stop pursuing nuclear weapons and supporting terrorists, Obama said.

"We would be very clear with Iran and say 'We don't accept your development of nuclear weapons'," he added.

According to a New York Times report on Friday, Obama said that incentives offered to Iran can include World Trade Organization membership and US assurance of not seek "regime change" if Iranian leaders changed their ways on key issues.

Obama made his own call after 30 senators, including his main rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, sent a letter on Thursday to President Bush, warning him that he has no authority to launch any military action against Iran.

"We wish to emphasize that no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action against Iran," said the letter.

The letter also said that a Senate resolution on calling for designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group could justify war against Iran.

Senators blamed Bush's warning against Iran last month that Tehran must be barred from nuclear weapons to avoid the prospect of "World War III," saying it is "counterproductive and undermine efforts to resolve tensions with Iran through diplomacy."

Although not signing the letter, Obama introduced a Senate resolution late Thursday saying Bush does not have authority to use military force against Iran, which, as his spokesman said, was an effort to "nullify the vote the Senate took to give the president the benefit of the doubt on Iran."

(Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2007)

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