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Nowruz 2012

Women wearing traditional Uzbek costumes look on during a celebration to mark Nowruz.

Best wishes to the millions of people who are celebrating the ancient spring festival.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has expressed best wishes to the millions of people who are celebrating the ancient spring festival of Nowruz -- including Kurds, Iranians, Azeris, Afghans, the people of Central Asia, and Americans.

“For over 3,000 years, Nowruz has been a time of hope for millions of people around the world,” said Secretary Clinton in a statement. “The spirit of compassion, family, and renewal is deeply woven throughout all of the rich cultural traditions of Nowruz, and reminds us of our shared commitment to a better world.

“The people of the United States join you in welcoming the opportunities of this new year. ... And as we face new challenges, we remain committed to our support for universal human rights and the freedom of expression – rights that promote peace and progress.”

President Barack Obama also sent greetings to those throughout the world celebrating Nowruz. He had a special message for the people of Iran:

“This holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries. But as people gather with their families, do good deeds, and welcome a new season, we are also reminded of the common humanity that we share.”

Mr. Obama hailed the cultural contributions of the Iranian people and noted how over the past year both Iran and the United States have confronted the danger of piracy. He underscored how Americans and Iranians are using the same tools – from cell phones to the Internet – to talk to one another and enrich their lives.

President Obama criticized the Iranian regime for seeking to draw an electronic curtain over Iran, denying Iranians access to information and ideas, by censoring the internet and jamming radio and television broadcasts; and by denying the rest of the world the benefit of interacting with the Iranian people, who “have so much to offer:”

“The Iranian people are the heirs to a great and ancient civilization. Like people everywhere, they have the universal right to think and speak for themselves. The Iranian government has a responsibility to respect these rights, just as it has a responsibility to meet its obligations with regard to its nuclear program.”

“In this season of new beginnings,” said Mr. Obama, “the people of Iran should know that the United States of America seeks a future of deeper connections between our people – a time when the electronic curtain that divides us is lifted and your voices are heard.”