In what appears to be a big shift in foreign policy, U.S. Vice
President Joe Biden publicly reached out to Iran during a major,
wide-ranging address to international leaders and security experts in
Munich, Germany, raising the possibility of a new era in U.S.-Iranian
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wasted no time,
telling world leaders he represents a new administration in Washington
and a "new day" setting the tone for a diplomacy first approach by
reaching out to Iran.
"Our administration is reviewing our policy towards Iran, but this much is clear: We will be willing to talk," he said.
But the vice president says Iran must also be willing to change.
down the current course, then there will be continued pressure and
isolation. Abandon the illicit nuclear program, and your support for
terrorism, and there will be meaningful incentives," he said.
between the United States and Iran center on Iran's pursuit of nuclear
technology. Iran claims its program is for peaceful purposes,
something the United States and its Western allies dispute. They
charge Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, and the United
Nations Security Council has sanctioned Iran three times.
And Biden says the U.S. will be ready if Iran refuses to sit down and talk.
will continue to develop missile defense to encounter the growing
Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven and it is cost
effective. We'll do so in consultation, with you our NATO allies, and
with Russia," he said.
The U.S. relationship with Russia is
another sensitive issue for the new administration. Biden admits there
has been a "dangerous drift in relations" between the two powers. Like
Biden, French President Nicholas Sarkozy says improving ties between
Russia and the West is key.
He says confidence must be restored
and says he doesn't think the Russia of today is a military threat to
NATO or the European Union.
Other leaders are waiting to hear more on the new U.S. approach. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among them.
says Germany is willing to go along with the U.S. and pursue talks with
Iran. But she warns Germany is ready to embrace stricter sanctions if
talks do not work.
European countries broadly welcomed Mr.
Obama's election and Biden's presence at the conference normally
attended by the U.S. defense secretary sent an important signal to
Europe that the Obama administration was keen to rebuild relations.