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9/1/04 - POWELL ON IRAN - 2004-09-01

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has spoken out on the need for democratic change in Iran. Asked in a television interview about the possibility that the Iranian people could replace their government, Mr. Powell said, “I see this speculation and...we just have to leave it up to the Iranian people to decide how they wish to be governed.”

Iran’s largely young population has grown increasingly restive under the backward and repressive policies of Iran’s radical fundamentalist rulers. “I’ve been in touch with a number of Iranians who have relatives here in the United States,” said Secretary of State Powell, “and they’re looking for a better life. They see what the rest of the world has. They know that they could be doing better than they are doing now. And as we have seen in recent months, they are pressuring their government.”

Mr. Powell said it is important for the U.S. to communicate with the Iranian people. “We have learned over the years that we should listen to what the Iranian people say and we should talk to the Iranian people with the message we have of a desire for a better relationship with Iran,” he said. “But it is up to the Iranian people to determine how they will be led and what kind of leadership they would like to see in power in Iran.”

U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says that Iran’s theocratic rulers fear their own people:

“They fear nothing more than when the voices of the people of the Middle East start to be heard by their governments, that the Iranian people are going to demand the same.”

President George W. Bush says that Iran’s discredited autocrats are trying to hold back the democratic will of the younger generation.