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Supporting Universal Rights In Iran

  • Eva Nenicka

Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs.

U.S. interests involve halting Iran's illicit nuclear activities, and promoting democracy and human rights across the region.

The United States has multiple core interests in the Middle East, said Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, at a recent congressional hearing.

Those interests include ensuring a lasting security for Israel; achieving a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors based on a two state solution; supporting a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq; countering terrorist groups; and maintaining open energy, trade and communications flows. U.S. interests also involve halting Iran's illicit nuclear activities, and promoting democracy and human rights across the region.

Questioned on the subject of how the United States supports the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, Assistant Secretary of State Feltman called the violent treatment by the Iranian regime of pro-democracy demonstrators "appalling". He said, "It shows the hypocrisy, it shows the outrageous behavior of this regime, the way you have peaceful demonstrators being fired on by their own government. And we have spoken up forcefully and strongly against that."

Mr. Feltman noted that the United States continues to highlight the hypocrisy and the brutality of the Iranian government, but is careful not to undermine the indigenous nature of Iran's green movement. "They have said they do not want any outside financial, technical support," remarked Mr. Feltman. "They don't want to be tainted in the views of some by looking as though they are agents of foreign governments."

But the United States does want to help. "What we are trying to do," Mr. Feltman said, "is use some appropriations from the congress to help create political space for them to operate via the Internet, to try to help provide some civil society training where people's voices can get heard; provide information that they would not otherwise have available; provide broadcasting into Iran that gives them other sources of news and information."

Iran's pro-democracy dissidents "prefer to work in their own way, as Iranians, inside Iran," said Assistant Secretary Feltman. And the United States, he emphasized, will continue to stand strongly in support of the universal rights of all Iranians.

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