WASHINGTON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama welcomed Wednesday the Bush administration's decision to have direct talks with Iran.
"I welcome news that the Bush Administration has shifted course and will send an envoy for direct talks with the Iranians in Geneva this weekend," he said in a statement.
"I commend our European allies and other friends on this effort. Now that the United States is involved, it should stay involved with the full strength of our diplomacy," said Obama.
"A united front with our friends and allies directly calling on the Iranians to stand down on their illicit nuclear program will maximize the international pressure we can bring to bear and will show the Iranian people that Iran's isolation is a function of its government's unwillingness to live up to its obligations," he said.
"Iran should live up to its obligations now; by waiting, it will only face greater isolation," added Obama.
Earlier in the day, the White House confirmed that Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will attend international talks with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva on Saturday.
Burns is the State Department's third-ranking official. His scheduled meeting with Jalili will be the highest-level contact since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979.
The United States severed its ties with Iran in 1980. From then on, Washington has been trying to beef up its sanctions against Tehran for alleged developing secretly nuclear weapons and involving in anti-U.S. coalition forces activities.
Obama had said that he will meet Iran's president without preconditions if elected president.