U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the previous Bush administration's attempts to isolate Iran did not work.
In testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee Thursday, Clinton said isolation "did not deter Iran one bit" in its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.
The Obama administration has taken a different approach than the previous administration by offering to engage in dialogue with the Iranians. Clinton said engaging Iran diplomatically would put the U.S. in a better position to organize tougher sanctions against Tehran if needed.
During her testimony Thursday, Clinton also expressed concern about Pakistan, where she said a growing insurgency is moving in on urban areas.
She said the Obama administration is working to persuade the Pakistani government that its traditional focus on India as a threat has to shift to the Islamic extremists. She noted an "increasing awareness" in Pakistan that the insurgency does pose a threat.
Clinton was appearing before the appropriations panel that is reviewing the administration's request for additional funds for the State Department this budget year.
On the subject of aid to the Palestinians, Clinton said she doubts there will be a unity agreement between the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
But in the event a unity government is formed, Clinton said the U.S. would not fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless the group renounces violence, recognizes Israel and respects past peace agreements.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.