Reuters: U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Friday Iran should not wait for the next administration to halt its uranium enrichment programme.
By Caren Bohan
PARIS (Reuters) – U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Friday Iran should not wait for the next administration to halt its uranium enrichment programme.
Speaking at a joint news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, Obama said Iran should accept the trade and technical incentives the six world powers have offered in exchange for ending its uranium enrichment.
"Iran should accept the proposals that President Sarkozy and the EU 3 plus 3 are presenting now. Don't wait for the next president because the pressure, I think, is only going to build," he said.
Sarkozy and Obama joked about their common immigrant backgrounds as, respectively, the son of a Hungarian and of a Kenyan. By the end of the news conference, Sarkozy was calling Obama by his first name.
"France is happy to welcome Barack Obama, firstly because he's American and the French love Americans," he said, before making a long, pointed pause during which the comment drew laughter from the travelling U.S. press corps.
He stopped just short of actually endorsing the 46-year-old senator but made it clear he would be happy if he won the November presidential election.
"Good luck to Barack Obama. If it's him, France will be happy and if it's not him, France will be a friend of the United States of America," he said.
Obama repaid Sarkozy in kind, praising him for his dynamism. "I'm asking him what he eats so that I can find out how I can always have as much energy as this man beside me. He's on the move all the time," he said.
Obama's brief visit to Paris was part of a fast-paced international tour intended to counter charges that he lacks the foreign policy experience needed to be Commander-in-Chief. He left for London after the meeting with Sarkozy.
His rival in the November election, Republican John McCain, has been sharply critical of Obama's call for greater engagement with Iran, saying it was irresponsible and naive.
President George W. Bush, who had long opposed direct talks with Iran over its nuclear programme, sent senior U.S. diplomat William Burns to talks in Geneva on Saturday with Iranian officials.
Envoys from the United States, Russia and China as well as the three European powers, Britain, France and Germany — the so-called sextet of world powers — attended the Geneva meeting.
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, James Mackenzie and Estelle Shirbon)
(Writing by James Mackenzie and Estelle Shirbon; editing by Sami Aboudi)