March 20, 2009

Chairman Kerry Statement on President Obama's Message to Iran Celebrating Nowruz

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry (D-MA) released the following statement today in response to President's Obama's videotaped remarks to the people of Iran in celebration of Nowruz:

"President Obama's eloquent address to the people and leaders of Iran commemorating Nowruz can be a watershed moment in public diplomacy, with a unique president using the powers of persuasion to great effect.

The regime in Tehran faces rising discontent from its own people. President Obama's message offers the regime a real choice: they can continue down the path of intransigence and face increasing regional isolation, escalating international sanctions, continuing economic stagnation and the threat of a regional confrontation, or they can start down a path of real change for both Iran and the entire Middle East.

Ending Iran's nuclear program and its support for terror is front and center for this Administration, as it must be. But if we learned anything during the last eight years, it's that mere saber rattling and idle threats only strengthen hardliners in Tehran by giving them a convenient foil and rhetorical sparring partner to distract from their own failures within their own country.

I am not naïve about the difficulties of a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran. But while it remains to be seen what direct negotiations with Iran can bring, this type of direct and respectful outreach to the Iranian people will be necessary if we are to chart a new course with Iran."

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