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Saturday, January 31, 2009
International

Obama retains all options with Iran: White House

World powers to hold first meet after Obama takeover

US President Barack Obama prefers diplomacy with Iran but preserves "all his options," the White House said Thursday, refusing to rule out military strikes despite promises of a new rapprochement.

Asked if the military option was still on the table with regard to the Islamic republic, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "The president hasn't changed his viewpoint that he should preserve all his options."

In tackling Tehran's nuclear ambitions, alleged support for terrorism and threats against Israel, Obama believes "we must use all elements of our national power to protect our interests as it relates to Iran," he said.

"That includes, as the president talked about in the (election) campaign, diplomacy, where possible, and that we have many issues to work through," Gibbs told reporters.

The spokesman's remarks followed a fiery speech Wednesday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is running for re-election on June 12.

Meanwhile, senior diplomats from six world powers trying to convince Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions will meet next week in Germany for their first meeting since US President Barack Obama took office, a German official said Friday.Political directors from the UN Security Council permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany will meet Wednesday near the western city of Frankfurt, German foreign ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner told a news conference.

Although the political directors are in constant telephone and email contact about Iran's nuclear programme, the meeting will mark the first gathering since Obama took office on January 20.

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