(Reuters) - Following are the leading 2008 U.S. presidential candidates’ positions on tensions with Iran over its nuclear energy program and involvement in Iraq.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton:
Voted to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as terrorist a organization. Rules out unconditional talks with Iran but is willing to hold direct discussions under right circumstances; said the United States should be prepared to offer incentives if Tehran ends its nuclear weapons ambitions, renounces sponsorship of terrorism, supports Middle East peace and plays a constructive role in stabilizing Iraq.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards:
Supports opening direct talks with Iran if it recognizes the rights of Jews, the state of Israel as well as the international rule of law. Refused to take military action off the table as an option; backs targeted sanctions on U.S. and foreign companies doing business with Iran but would offer economic incentives to Tehran to cooperate with the West, including modifying the embargo, membership in multilateral organizations and creation of a fuel bank.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama:
Has said he would engage in direct, personal talks with Iran which includes offering economic incentives if Tehran stopped operations in Iraq and cooperated on nuclear issues. He has refused to say if he would consider military action if Iran did not abandon its presumed nuclear weapons program. Offered a resolution in the Senate to reverse designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as terrorist organization.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani:
Says he is against unconditional talks with Iranian leaders and has emphasized that talking about a possible military strike would lessen the chances of war. Has supported tighter sanctions to isolate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Arizona Sen. John McCain:
Says he is open to using military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons but has asserted that plenty of other options were available before reaching that point. Has ruled out unconditional talks with Tehran, but instead would work with allies to apply pressure to stop Iran’s actions in Iraq. Once joked about attacking Iran when asked about a possible strike, singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” which became a video sensation on the Internet.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:
Says he would tighten economic sanctions, urge divestment and isolate Iranian government leaders diplomatically, but has urged keeping the military option on the table. Urged indicting Iranian President Ahmadinejad for inciting genocide against Israel.
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson:
Said he would back rallying allies to isolate Iran but would leave the military option on the table; would support a preemptive strike to eliminate a nuclear capability. Said he would work with the Iranian people to bring about regime change.
SOURCE: campaign Web sites and appearances.
Writing by Jeremy Pelofsky and Paul Grant, editing by Vicki Allen