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Brown says US should treat Iranian leader as ‘an outcast’

By Eric Moskowitz
Globe Staff / December 13, 2009

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In his continued effort to distinguish himself from Attorney General Martha Coakley in their US Senate race, Republican nominee Scott Brown yesterday challenged Coakley’s willingness to negotiate with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a position statement he released on the Middle East.

“Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Meeting with him confers legitimacy when the only correct response is to treat him as an outcast,’’ wrote Brown, who expressed support for economic sanctions before Congress to pressure Iran to curtail its nuclear ambitions. “A personal meeting with Ahmadinejad as suggested by Martha Coakley would embolden him and be used as a propaganda tool to strengthen his position.’’

Coakley, who supports sanctioning Iran for its refusal to stop uranium enrichment but favors direct diplomacy with the nation, issued a statement defending her position.

“While Scott Brown supports the failed policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney of empty threats and refusing to engage in productive dialogue and diplomacy, Martha supports President Obama’s position of keeping open diplomatic channels with any country when we believe it is in the interest of our nation’s safety and security,’’ said Alex Zaroulis, a spokeswoman for the Coakley campaign.

In the first week of their head-to-head race in the special election, Brown has sought to draw a sharp distinction between himself and Coakley, the Democratic nominee, on a series of issues.

His primary focus is the economy - he started a “Jobs Are Job One’’ tour to highlight his opposition to new taxes and business regulations - but he has also made foreign policy a main point.

Beginning a series of what he calls “Kitchen Table Conversations’’ in Harvard on Friday, Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, pointed out his differences with Coakley on Afghanistan (he supports President Obama’s decision to send more troops; she does not) and criticized her on Iran, as he sipped hot chocolate at the home of Jack and Kris Farren.

“When it comes to foreign policy experience, I don’t think she’s focused on reality,’’ Brown said, sitting at the couple’s kitchen table.

In the position paper, Brown, a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard, also supported Israel’s security fence, a network of barriers and fences around the West Bank that has been credited with curbing suicide bombings in Israel but that has been controversial for its placement and nature.

“As our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel lives every day under the threat of terror, yet shares with America a dedication to democratic ideals, a respect for faith, and a commitment to peace in the region,’’ Brown wrote. “To the extent possible, the Israeli government should seek to minimize the hardship it places on Palestinians but needs to put its own security first.’’

Additionally, Brown said he would work to improve Middle East relationships and encourage Israel’s neighbors to extend democratic rights to its citizens, and he expressed continued hope for a two-state solution for peace and security in Israel.

Coakley, who as Middlesex district attorney toured Israel on an Anti-Defamation League-sponsored trip, also yesterday called Israel “one of our most important and trusted allies’’ and expressed support for facilitating a two-state solution.

Eric Moskowitz can be reached at emoskowitz@globe.com.