US president-elect Barack Obama vowed "tough but direct diplomacy" with Iran, offering incentives along with the threat of tougher sanctions to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear arms. "We need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran," he said in an interview aired Sunday on NBC program "Meet the Press."
As president from next month, Obama said he would make clear to Tehran that the nuclear program was "unacceptable," along with its support of Hamas and Hizbullah, and its "threats against Israel." Obama promised a "set of carrots and sticks in changing their calculus about how they want to operate."
Carrots would include economic incentives to the cash-strapped oil producer and greater access to the international trading system, he said. Sticks comprised enlisting Iran's trading partners such as China, India and Russia "to agree that in order for us to change Iran's behavior, we may have to tighten up those (UN) sanctions."
"But we are willing to talk to them directly and give them a clear choice. And ultimately let them make a determination whether they want to do this the hard way or the easy way," Obama said.