Last Updated: Mon Mar 19, 2012 18:33 pm (KSA) 15:33 pm (GMT)

Clinton urges human rights on Iran New Year

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wished Iranians well on Nowruz, the Persian New Year. (Reuters)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wished Iranians well on Nowruz, the Persian New Year. (Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Monday for respect for human rights and freedom of expression as she wished Iranians well on Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

“The people of the United States join you in welcoming the opportunities of this New Year and the possibilities for strengthening ties of family and friends,” Clinton said in a Nowruz statement.

“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. May your Nowruz be glorious, and all your days be Nowruz.”

Millions of Iranians -- along with people of other Persian-influenced nations such as Afghanistan -- celebrate Nowruz with the start of spring, which is meant to represent renewal.

Iran and the United States have no diplomatic relations. Washington has repeatedly urged Iran’s clerical regime to improve its record on human rights, including treatment of political critics and religious minorities.

In 2009, newly inaugurated U.S. President Barack Obama used Nowruz to send an unprecedented overture to Iranians in which he offered to repair three decades of ill will through dialogue on disputes including Tehran’s nuclear program.

Obama concluded that Iran failed to return the gesture and the regime shortly afterward clamped down on major street protests that erupted after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial reelection.

The Obama administration has since ramped up economic sanctions to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program, as Israel leads calls for the world to ensure that Tehran does not develop an atomic bomb.

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