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Obama warns of action against Iran

The United States will not hesitate to attack Iran with military force to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, President Barack Obama has warned.

But he cautioned that "too much loose talk of war" recently has only helped Tehran and driven up the price of oil.

Speaking to a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, Mr Obama appealed to Israel for more time to let sanctions further isolate Iran. He sought to halt a drumbeat to war with Iran and hold off a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

"For the sake of Israel's security, America's security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster," he told thousands at the annual American-Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference.

"Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition that we have built."

Quoting President Theodore Roosevelt, Mr Obama said he would "speak softly, but carry a big stick" - and warned Iran not to test US resolve.

Mr Obama's widely anticipated speech came one day before he meets Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, who plans to address the AIPAC.

Three Republican would-be presidential candidates - Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich - were scheduled to speak to the conference via satellite on Tuesday, a critical day in the campaign when 10 states vote in the contest to choose a challenger to Mr Obama in the November election.

To Israel and Jewish voters in the US, the president promoted his administration's commitment to the Middle East ally.

"You don't have to count on my words. You can look at my deeds," he said. He defended his record of rallying to Israel's security and political sovereignty, saying: "We have been there for Israel. Every single time."

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