Obama: Would try personal diplomacy, incentives on Iran

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Friday that as president he would personally negotiate with Iran, offering economic incentives and a chance for peaceful relations if Iranian leaders would forego pursuit of nuclear weapons and support of terrorists. Citing a long history of progress through diplomatic gestures toward China and the former Soviet Union, Obama, a US senator representing Illinois, laid out in stronger terms his call for diplomacy with Iran - a policy with greater emphasis on negotiation than the Bush administration policy and a stance that has been ridiculed by his fellow Democratic presidential candidates. Obama has come under repeated criticism from other presidential candidates - Democrats and Republicans, alike - for saying in a July presidential debate that he would be willing to meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without condition. He reiterated statements in a New York Times interview, published Friday, in which he said Iran might be offered membership in the World Trade Organization and assurances that the United States would not seek "regime change" if Iranian leaders changed their ways on key issues.