Bush: Diplomacy first with Iran

President Bush said he has made it clear to Israel that the United States prefers diplomacy in dealing with Iran.

“I have made it very clear to all parties that the first option ought to be to solve this problem diplomatically,” Bush said Wednesday when he was asked about reports that Israel was planning a strike to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “And the best way to solve it diplomatically is for the United States to work with other nations to send a focused message, and that is that you will be isolated and you will have economic hardship if you continue trying to enrich” uranium.

Other U.S. officials have downplayed recent predictions of an Israeli strike before Bush leaves office.

“It’s always amazing that there are lots of anonymous sources out there who profess to know the inner will of officials in other countries, Israel or otherwise,” Tom Casey, the State Department spokesman said Wednesday.

“I have absolutely no information that would substantiate” such predictions,” he said. “But certainly, you’re free to ask Israeli officials what their current defensive posture is with relation to Iran or any other country. And usually, I don’t think the Israelis are particularly shy about expressing their concerns about the situation in their neighborhood.”

Chairman of the joint chiefs of stafff, Adm. Mike Mullen told a news conference Wednesday that an Israeli attack on Iran would destabilize the entire Middle East. He declined to say what he discussed with Israeli leaders about such an attack during his visit last week.

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