Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Clinton: We will engage Iran and offer its leaders a clear choice: join the international community as a responsible member, or further isolation

"...[S]mart power counsels that we lead with diplomacy, even in the case of adversaries or nations with whom we disagree. We cannot be afraid or unwilling to engage. Yet some suggest that this is a sign of weakness or naiveté - or acquiescence to these countries' repression of their own people. That is wrong.

"The President and I believe that refusing to talk to countries rarely punishes them. And as long as engagement might advance our interests and our values, it is unwise to take it off the table. Negotiations can provide insight into regimes' calculations and the possibility - even if it seems remote - that a regime will, eventually, alter its behavior in exchange for the benefits of acceptance into the international community.... exhausting the option for dialogue is also more likely to make our partners more willing to exert pressure should persuasion fail."

"We watched the energy of Iran's election with great admiration, only to be appalled by the manner in which the government used violence to quell the voices of the Iranian people, then tried to hide its actions by arresting foreign nationals, expelling journalists, and cutting off access to technology. As we ... have made clear, these actions are deplorable and unacceptable. We know very well what we inherited with Iran. We know how far its nuclear program has advanced - and we know that refusing to deal with the Islamic Republic has not succeeded in altering the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon, reducing Iranian support for terror, or improving Iran's treatment of its citizens.

"Neither the president nor I have any illusions that direct dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success. But we also understand the importance of trying to engage Iran and offering its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation. Direct talks provide the best vehicle for presenting and explaining that choice..... Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights. The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."

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