In a major foreign policy address in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is determined to "lead with diplomacy, even in cases of adversaries or nations with whom we disagree." Engagement, said Secretary of State Clinton, can advance our national interests and values, and should not be equated with weakness or acquiescence in repressive nations' actions against their own people.
The U.S. effort to engage Iran diplomatically is a case in point, said Secretary Clinton:
"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. And then tried to hide its actions by arresting foreign journalists and nationals and expelling them ,and cutting off access to technology. As we and our G-8 partners have made clear, these actions are deplorable and unacceptable."
But, she said, "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 dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election. But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving 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 are the best way to present and explain that choice, said Secretary Clinton. Iran can become a positive actor in the region and a responsible member of the international community if it gives up its nuclear weapons' ambitions, stops its support for terrorism, and fulfills its obligations on human rights. "The choice is clear," said Secretary of State Clinton. "We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."