Sept 26 (Reuters) - Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama on Friday took part in the first of three debates that could help determine the winner of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 4.
Here are some quotes from the foreign policy portion of the debate, which was held in Oxford, Mississippi:
"I stood up and opposed this war, at a time when it was politically risky to do so, because I said that not only did we not know how much it was going to cost, what our exit strategy might be, how it would affect our relationships around the world and whether our intelligence was sound but also because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan.
"The first question is whether we should have gone into this war in the first place."
"I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear, that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict. Our initial military success, we went into Baghdad and everybody celebrating, and then the war was very badly mishandled."
"We have seen Afghanistan worsen, deteriorate. We need more troops there. We need more resources there."
"I won’t repeat the mistake that I regret enormously, and that is after we were able to help the Afghan freedom fighters and drive the Russians out of Afghanistan, we basically washed our hands of the region. We can’t ignore those lessons of history."
"With the strategy that’s been pursued ... for 10 years we coddled Musharraf; we alienated the Pakistani population because we were anti-democratic; we had a 20th century mind-set that basically said, well, you know, he may be a dictator, but he’s our dictator; and as a consequence, we lost legitimacy in Pakistan."
"If the United States has al Qaeda, (Osama) bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out."
"You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government."
"We do need tougher sanctions. I do not agree with Senator McCain that we’re going to be able to execute the kind of sanctions we need without some cooperation from countries, like Russia and China."
"We’re also going to have to, I believe, engage in tough, direct diplomacy with Iran, and this is a major difference that I have with Senator McCain.
"This is a serious threat. This is a serious threat to the security in the world, and I believe we can act, and we can act with our friends and allies and -- and reduce that threat as quickly as possible. But have no doubt about the ultimate result of them acquiring nuclear weapons."
"If without precondition you sit down across the table from someone who has called Israel a ‘stinking corpse,’ and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map, you legitimize those comments. This is dangerous. It isn’t just naive, it’s dangerous."
"I think that given what’s happened over the last several weeks and months, our entire Russian approach has to be evaluated, because a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region."
"He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. And Russia has now become a nation fueled by petrol dollars that is basically a KGB-apparatchik-run government."
"I looked into Mr. Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters: a K, a G and a B. And their aggression in Georgia is not acceptable behavior. I don’t believe we’re going to go back to the Cold War. I am sure that that will not happen. But I do believe that we need to bolster our friends and allies."
(Compiled by Christopher Doering)