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Bush: Diplomacy Best Immediate Course Regarding Iran

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2006 – Diplomacy is the best way to confront Iran's nuclear program, but President Bush said today in Sun City Center, Fla., he won't rule out other options if that falls through.

"We will continue to work through diplomatic channels to make it clear that we mean what we say," Bush said in response to a question posed during his visit to the sprawling retirement community to discuss the Medicare prescription drug benefit. "And obviously, part of making the diplomacy work is what will be the consequences if the Iranians decide not to listen to the rational demands of the world."

Bush avoided spelling out exactly what those consequences could be. "I think it's very important for good negotiators to keep their cards close to the vest and at the appropriate time, make it clear what our intentions are," he said.

The best way to lay "the foundation for peace," regarding Iraq and other world situations, is to encourage the spread of freedom, the president said. "The cornerstone of my foreign policy is the belief that freedom is universal," he said.

"Freedom has changed the world in incredible ways," the president said, noting the impact it's had on Japan, Europe and other parts of the world that once lived under tyranny. "Freedom has the capacity to change enemies into friends," he said. "We must not lose sight of the historical examples."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed the Iran issue yesterday after meeting with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett in New York and before meeting with her counterparts from Britain, Russia, China, France, Germany and the European Union to discuss Iran.

"This is a time for the international community to come together to say to the Iranians with very great clarity that it is time for Iran to accede to the demands of the international community." Rice said. "The Iranians can have a civil nuclear program, but they need to do so in a way that gives confidence to the international community that they are not seeking a nuclear weapon under the cover of civilian nuclear power."

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Condoleezza Rice

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