Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008

Iran shuns US 'carrot-and-stick'

President-elect Obama on Meet the Press, 6/12/2008 in Chicago
Mr Obama says he will use a "tough but direct diplomacy" with Tehran

Iran has told US President-elect Barack Obama to abandon the "failed" US carrot-and-stick approach to solving the atomic row with Tehran.

Mr Obama on Sunday vowed "tough but direct diplomacy", offering Iran economic incentives to end its nuclear programme or face tougher sanctions.

But Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said the policy was "unacceptable".

He urged Mr Obama to adopt an "interactive policy" instead.

"The carrot and stick approach has proven to be useless. It is an unacceptable and virtually failed policy," Mr Qashqavi said. "This needs to change and transform into an interactive policy".

The UN Security Council has repeatedly demanded that Iran freeze its uranium enrichment work, which the US says is part of Iran's drive to develop an atomic weapon, a claim denied by Tehran.

Direct diplomacy

In a televised interview with NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Mr Obama said the US should "ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran".

In terms of carrots, he said, the US could provide economic incentives for a country that "is under enormous strain" with huge inflation and unemployment problems.

He said one of the main "sticks" would be to step up diplomatic efforts with nations like China and Russia that do business with Iran, to consider tightening UN sanctions against the country.

But, he stressed, "we are willing to talk to them (Iran) directly and give them a clear choice and ultimately let them make a determination in terms of whether they want to do this the hard way or the easy way."

Mr Qashqavi said if the new US administration was to repeat calls for Iran to halt enrichment, "our position is that we will not suspend".

He said that Iran would wait to see how Mr Obama acts when he takes office next month.

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