A startling idea! Imagine, trying to make peace with a nation before going to war against it!
"What happens if, in three years time, Iran has a nuclear weapon," Mr Carter asked. "I'm not sure that is going to happen, but if it does, what do we do? They are rational people like all of us in this room. Do they want to commit suicide? I would guess not. So what we have to do is talk with them now and say to them we want to be their friends.
Twenty-five years ago we cut off trading with Iran. We've got to resume trading to show Iran we are friends."
Mr Carter also criticised President George Bush, saying it was a "serious mistake and terrible departure" from the actions of previous US presidents not to engage with countries with which they differed. "The president of the administration in Washington is the first one to have ever done this and I think we close off ourselves from any sort of rational accommodation of the views of other parties in order to reach out on major goals,"