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Obama's first big diplomacy test: Iran

Can the president's philosophy of talking with the enemy keep Iran away from nuclear weapons?

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Iran is shaping up to be the defining test of President Obama's engage-our-enemies diplomacy.

As Mr. Obama has pursued his foreign policy in the initial weeks of his presidency, he has begun to put his belief that America should talk to its adversaries into practice with countries like Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, and even North Korea. But with no country are the stakes of this approach higher than with Iran.

"Iran is a far higher priority, and the success or failure of the approach is far more consequential because of the nuclear issue, the volatility of the region, and Iran being sandwiched in there between Iraq and Afghanistan," says Wayne White, a former State Department policy planning official.

With Iran continuing to pursue – and offer boastful progress reports on – a nuclear program that Western countries believe is designed to deliver nuclear weapons, pressure is mounting on Obama to show that diplomacy can ensure Iran never possesses the bomb.


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