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Foreign policy under spotlight in US presidential race
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Both support multilateral engagement and diplomacy with Iran.

In the Middle East, they both support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while maintaining a pro-Israel tone.

Both call for a redoubling of efforts in Afghanistan.

But their real differences surface in style and tone.

Citing eight years as first lady and two terms as a senator, Clinton has sought to portray herself as the strongest candidate on foreign policy, criticizing Obama for thin credentials.

Clinton has criticized Obama for saying he would attack al Qaida targets in Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government.

Last summer, Obama made headlines when he said, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

During the February 26 debate, Obama noted the Bush administration did exactly that recently when it launched an airstrike on a top al Qaida leader without telling the Pakistanis first.

On foreign policy, Obama has sought to turn Clinton's competition on experience into one about judgment, arguing Clinton "lacked the good judgment" to oppose the Iraq war from the beginning.

"Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there were only so many ways we could get out," he said during Tuesday's debate in Ohio.

"The question is, 'Who's making the decision initially to drive the bus into the ditch?' "

One stark difference between the candidates is on talking with "American foes".

Obama has said he would meet with the leaders of those countries in the first year of his presidency, arguing "it's important for the United States not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies."

While Clinton herself has called for more diplomatic engagement with US foes, she called Obama's approach "irresponsible" and "naive".

"It may sound good, but it doesn't meet the real-world test of foreign policy," Clinton added.

Meanwhile, for people living outside the United States, the desire to move beyond eight years of the Bush administration's foreign policy, has resulted in particular interest in this year's presidential race, analysts said.

As a result, the race has attracted an unprecedented level of interest overseas.

For example, Arab satellite networks are sending reporters to trail the candidates around the country.

Foreign diplomats have also traveled to primaries such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

(Xinhua News Agency February 29, 2008)

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