WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday she does not believe a Senate resolution authorizes President Bush to take military action against Iran.
"There is nothing in this particular resolution that would suggest that from our point of view. And, clearly, the president has also made very clear that he's on a diplomatic path where Iran comes into focus," Rice said.
The Senate in late September voted 76-22 in favor of a resolution urging the State Department to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
While the resolution, by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., attracted overwhelming bipartisan support, a small group of Democrats said they feared labeling the state-sponsored organization a terrorist group could be interpreted as a congressional authorization of military force in Iran.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was the only Senate Democrat running for president to support the measure. Her rivals have argued that Bush could use it to justify war with Iran. Clinton insists her vote would not support military strikes and instead was a vote for stepped-up diplomacy.
On Sunday, Rice echoed that view. She said Bush was focused on diplomatic options _ not waging war.
"Obviously, it can be the case that he will never take his options off the table, but this particular resolution has nothing to do with that from our point of view," Rice said. "This resolution is saying that there needs to be strong measures taken against Iran, which we have definitely done."
"And if the Iranians suspend their enrichment and reprocessing, I'm prepared to meet my counterpart anyplace, anytime, anywhere," she added. "So the question isn't why will we not talk to Tehran. The question is, why will Tehran not talk to us?"
Rice spoke on ABC's "This Week."