U.S.: Talks with Iran to include Israel protections

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Talks with Iran must address nuclear weapons, backing for terrorists and its threats against Israel, the White House said.

Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama’s spokesman, addressed on Thursday preconditions for such talks outlined earlier this week by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president; these included apologizing for past alleged U.S. crimes against Iran and cutting off U.S. support for Israel.

"I think it’s best to instead focus not on what the leader of — one of the leaders of Iran might have said, but instead what the president believes, that we must use all elements of our national power to protect our interests as it relates to Iran," Gibbs said. "That includes, as the president talked about in the campaign, diplomacy where possible and that we have many issues to work through. An illicit nuclear program by the Iranians, the sponsorship of terrorism and the threatening of peace in Israel are just a few of the issues that this president believes the Iranian leadership should address."

In his run for the presidency, Obama campaigned on intensifying diplomatic outreach to Iran.

Gibbs also said that Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, his secretary of state, were not aware of any draft letter to Iran; the existence of such a draft circulating in the State Department was reported earlier this week by the Guardian newspaper.

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