Remarks to Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Staff Involved in Iran
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, this is really just a way of saying thank you. Thank you for the work you’re doing. It is such important work. We are incredibly grateful to you. And I am very convinced that it is vital to our national security and our foreign policy.
When we don’t have an embassy, we don’t have an ambassador, where normal diplomatic channels don’t exist for us, we do really rely on Washington and field staff to inform our policies, to try to dispel myths, but also to confirm concerns and information that can be of importance to us as we go forward.
As you well know, the Obama Administration and our country remain committed to broader engagement in the region. We made very specific offers to the Iranians, including outreach by the President himself directly to the Iranians. And unfortunately, we didn’t get much of a positive response, and that was a disappointment and it was discouraging because we wanted to try to give the leaders in Tehran a clear choice to uphold their international obligations, enjoy the benefits, therefore, of normal relations with the United States, or face increasing isolation and the consequences.
But at every turn, unfortunately, the Iranians have rejected our overtures and remain to this day in a rejectionist mindset. But the fact that we have reached out, often based on information and insights that you have brought our way, has given us much more credibility in our dealings internationally, and therefore, the ability to build an international consensus on the need to apply pressure to Iran’s leaders to change course.
As you know, we’re working very hard in the United Nations right now with the members of the Security Council and particularly the P-5+1 to develop a resolution that would help really put that international pressure into action. We’re not targeting the people of Iran, but we are trying to focus on changing the calculation on the part of the leaders as to what is in their interests.
Now, our concern with Iran extends beyond our focus on their nuclear program. As you know, it also encompasses their grave human rights violations. And over the last year, as you have reported to us, so many Iranians have been subjected to arbitrary punishments, detention, brutalization by their own government. And we will continue speaking out about those abuses. When I leave here, I will be going to meet with the mothers of the three hikers who remain in prison. They’ve been given no notice of charges against them. They are, by every shred of evidence we have, three young people who were hiking in the Kurdish north of Iraq on a break from their studies and their work, and allegedly, crossed the border and were arrested.
So we are going to do all we can to try to get them released on humanitarian grounds. I know that when the international media turns to other stories, you remain focused on getting us the information we need to try to chart the best course forward with respect to Iran.
And we really need your continuing advice and your guidance. All of us understand the challenges of your jobs, and we really, really appreciate it.