Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that the United States needs to do more than merely talk to Iran.

In a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's conference in Washington, Rice said that the United States is conducting diplomacy with the Islamic state, but she dismissed a debate over whether U.S. leaders should "talk" to the country.

"We would be willing to meet with them, but not while they continue to inch closer to a nuclear weapon, under the cover of talk," Rice said, speaking for the Bush administration. "So the real question is not, 'Why won't the Bush administration talk to Tehran?' The real question is, 'Why won't Tehran talk to us?'"

A greater willingness to meet with leaders who have been antagonists of the United States has been central to Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE's foreign policy. Obama's proposal has prompted criticism from Republicans and their presidential nominee, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE, who suggested today that Obama is offering something that has been tried and hasn't worked.

Rice also added that the United States has done more than just talk with Iran. It has sanctioned Iranian military forces and its banks and has sent U.S. ships to the region to deter attacks by Iran on other countries, Rice noted.

"Diplomacy is not a synonym for talking," she said. "True diplomacy means structuring a set of incentives and disincentives to produce change in behavior."