Obama’s words welcome but new policy needed: Larijani

February 7th, 2009 - 5:28 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaMunich, Feb 7 (DPA) US President Barack Obama’s desire to boost dialogue in the Middle East is “positive”, but it must be followed with a complete change in US diplomacy, Iran’s parliament speaker has said. “In the last year, the US has burned many bridges. A new White House can rebuild them, but this requires new pragmatic strategies based on respect and fair play: the carrot and stick must be discarded,” Ali Larijani told the Munich Security Conference in Germany Friday.

Iran is under pressure from the international community over its nuclear programme, which it says is peaceful, but which observers fear is intended to create a nuclear bomb.

Speaking during a debate on nuclear disarmament at the annual conference, Larijani accused the US of double standards, saying that Washington had called for sanctions against Iran, but not against new nuclear powers India and Pakistan.

He hailed as a “positive step” Obama’s declaration that the US wanted to listen to all sides in the Middle East conflict.

But he questioned whether Obama’s inauguration would bring any change in the US’ long-term foreign policy, accusing Washington of repeatedly attacking his country over the decades.

“With the change of tone (introduced by Obama), do you expect this pain to go away? The other party must accept their mistakes and change their strategies,” he said.

In particular, Obama must choose multilateral action over unilateral moves, work on a “new collective security agreement” to replace NATO, boost local forces in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than moving US troops there, and respect the “cultural, economic and political character” of the Middle East, he said.

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