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12/26/02 - BUSH ON IRAN - 2002-12-27

The United States is committed to supporting the people of Iran in their quest for freedom, prosperity, honest and effective government, due process, and the rule of law.

In recent elections, the vast majority of the Iranian people voted for political and economic reform. Yet their voices are not being listened to by the unelected, extremist Muslim clerics who are the real rulers of Iran.

As President George W. Bush said, “Uncompromising, destructive policies have persisted and far too little has changed in the daily lives of the Iranian people. Iranian students, journalists and parliamentarians are still arrested, intimidated, and abused for advocating reform or for criticizing the ruling regime.”

For many decades, the U.S. has broadcast news and cultural programs to the Iranian people on the Voice of America. And in 1998, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty began Persian language broadcasts to Iran. Now, V-O-A and R-F-E/R-L have joined together to bring additional broadcasting to Iran. Radio Farda – “Tommorow” in Persian -- is on the air, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with additional news and information, as well as music designed to appeal to Iran’s young people. In a statement broadcast on Radio Farda, President Bush said, “The people of Iran want to build a freer, more prosperous country for their children, and live in a country that is a full partner in the international community. Iranians also deserve a free press to express themselves to help build an open, democratic, and free society.”

The future of Iran will be decided by the people of Iran. But right now, the Iranian people are struggling with difficult questions about how to build a modern twenty-first century society that is free and prosperous. “If Iran respects its international obligations and embraces freedom and tolerance,” said President Bush, “it will have no better friend than the United States of America.”