United States Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson on Saturday accused President George Bush of pursuing a "strategy for war" on Iran and called for direct talks with the Islamic republic.
Pointing to the US military build-up in the Gulf, the New Mexico governor, who used to represent the United States at the United Nations, wrote in The Washington Post: "This is not a strategy for peace.
It is a strategy for war -- a war that Congress has not authorised."
Richardson argued that saber-rattling was not a good way to get Iranians to cooperate with the United States and the rest of the international community over Tehran's nuclear program.
"But it is a good way to start a new war -- a war that would be a disaster for the Middle East, for the United States and for the world," the former diplomat pointed out.
"A war that, furthermore, would destroy what little remains of US credibility in the community of nations."
Richardson said a better approach would be for the United States to engage directly with the Iranians and to lead a global diplomatic offensive to prevent them from building nuclear weapons.
"We need tough, direct negotiations, not just with Iran but also with our allies, especially Russia, to get them to support us in presenting Iran with credible carrots and sticks," he wrote.