AFP - President Barack Obama wants diplomacy with Iran but preserves "all his options," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday when asked if military strikes were an option.
"The president hasn't changed his viewpoint that he should preserve all his options," Gibbs told reporters.
In tackling Iran's nuclear ambitions, alleged support for terrorism and threats against Israel, Obama believes "we must use all elements of our national power to protect our interests as it relates to Iran," he said.
"That includes ... diplomacy where possible," Gibbs added following a fiery speech Wednesday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
After Obama extended a hand of diplomacy to Tehran, Ahmadinejad demanded the new US president apologize for past US "crimes" against the Islamic republic and "stop supporting the Zionists" of Israel.
Britain's Guardian newspaper meanwhile reported that Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were drafting a letter to Iran's leadership to set the seal on their promises of diplomatic engagement.
Gibbs shot down the report.
"Neither the president nor the secretary of state has requested nor seen any such letter. That closes the book a little bit on that," he said.
The spokesman added that it was "unclear exactly who" in the Iranian leadership would be engaged by US officials. Ahmadinejad is outranked by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
For any talks to occur, "there has to be some preparation and an understanding and respect by both sides," Gibbs said.