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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Clinton Urges Iran to Release Detained Americans

In Americans, Global News, hostages, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Madame Secretary Clinton on August 15, 2009 at 11:00 pm

15 August 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Iran to release all Americans detained in the country, including three hikers arrested last month.

Clinton Saturday called on Iranian authorities to grant consular access to the three hikers, who were detained July 31.

Iranian television has described the three as spies who illegally entered the country.

Clinton said the United States also remains concerned about Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent missing in Iran since 2007. She also called for the release of American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh.

In related news, an American graduate student jailed in Iran for a few weeks and barred from leaving the country for nine months returned this week to Los Angeles. Esha Momeni was arrested last year and charged with acting against national security.

She was researching the Iranian women’s’ rights movement for her master’s thesis at an American university.

Momeni is one of several Iranian-Americans detained in the last year on security-related charges. She says she spent 25 of her 28 days in jail in solitary confinement, and that she was repeatedly interrogated.

Momeni was eventually released on bail, but Iranian authorities confiscated her passports and barred her from leaving the country until this week.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

Clinton ‘Concerned’ About Americans Held in Iran

BAGHDAD, Aug. 3 — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday thatIran Iraq she was “concerned” about three Americans detained in Iran and that the United States had not received any information from Iran about their fate since they crossed into the country from northern Iraq last week.

News reports Tuesday in Iran, meanwhile, said the Americans were under arrest for “illegal entry” and claimed that their case was being used by the U.S. government for propaganda purposes, the Associated Press reported. Iran’s state-controlled media noted that at least two of the Americans are journalists, the wire service said, and questioned reports that the trio were hikers who wandered across the border by mistake.

Officials in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said the group was lost and entered Iran while on an excursion in a mountainous area along the border. They also said that border guards had warned them not to proceed because the border in that area is not clearly marked.

“Obviously, we are concerned,” Clinton told reporters at the State Department. “We want this matter brought to a resolution as soon as possible. And we call on the Iranian government to help us determine the whereabouts of the three missing Americans and return them as quickly as possible.”

Clinton said that the Swiss ambassador in Iran, who represents American interests there, is seeking information about the three. Tehran and Washington broke off diplomatic ties in 1979.

Kurdish authorities identified the Americans as Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal. The three had called a friend, Shon Meckfessel, who had stayed in a hotel in Sulaymaniyah, the region’s second-largest city, because he was feeling sick. They told him that Iranian border guards were surrounding them. They have not been heard from since.

Kurdish officials said the Americans told them they were journalists. Shourd has written for Brave New Traveler, an online travel magazine. On the magazine’s Web site, she identifies herself as a “teacher-activist-writer from California currently based in the Middle East.” Bauer, of Minnesota, is a Middle East correspondent for New American Media and has written for other publications, including the Nation magazine.

Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., and Fattal’s mother, Laura Fattal of Elkins Park, Pa., both said in brief statements that they were concerned about the group’s welfare and safety.

The Kurdish government said that it would soon meet for a second time with Iranian representatives to discuss the fate of the Americans and to seek their release.

Clinton’s statement Monday came after the head of the Iranian parliament’s foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, confirmed the arrest of the Americans on Sunday, according to Iranian television.

Iran’s Arabic-language network said in a news bulletin Monday, quoting Iraqi police sources, that the Americans were “CIA agents.” The Iranian government, however, did not immediately endorse that claim.
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Hillary’s surprise visit to Iraq…

In foreign policy, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton on April 25, 2009 at 9:45 pm
U.S. Secretary ofState Hillary Rodham Clinton, foreground, gestures as she speaks, with unnamed representatives of Iraqi civil society and embassy staff in the background, at a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 25, 2009. Clinton on Saturday assured Iraq that the Obama administration would not abandon the country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, foreground, gestures as she speaks, with unnamed representatives of Iraqi civil society and embassy staff in the background, at a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 25, 2009. Clinton on Saturday assured Iraq that the Obama administration would not abandon the country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures as she addresses representatives of Iraqi civil society and members of the press core at a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 25, 2009. Clinton on Saturday assured Iraq that the Obama administration would not abandon the country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures as she addresses representatives of Iraqi civil society and members of the press core at a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 25, 2009. Clinton on Saturday assured Iraq that the Obama administration would not abandon the country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, addresses representatives of Iraqi civil society and members of the press at a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 25, 2009. Clinton on Saturday assured Iraq that the Obama administration would not abandon the country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence.(AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, addresses representatives of Iraqi civil society and members of the press at a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 25, 2009. Clinton on Saturday assured Iraq that the Obama administration would not abandon the country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence.(AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

Clinton to Iraqis: US not going to abandon you.

BAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to assure Iraqis on Saturday that the Obama administration would not abandon their country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence.

Clinton said the drawdown would be handled in a “responsible and careful way” and would not affect efforts to improve Iraq’s security forces, or complete reconstruction and development projects.

But Iraqis, and particularly their security forces, need to overcome sectarian and other differences if they are to build a united, secure nation, she said.

“Let me assure you and repeat what President Obama said, we are committed to Iraq, we want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq,” she told a nervous but receptive crowd at a town hall meeting at the U.S. Embassy in the capital.

“We are very committed, but the nature of our commitment may look somewhat different because we are going to be withdrawing our combat troops over the next couple of years,” Clinton said.

On her first trip to Iraq as America’s top diplomat, Clinton said the country has made great strides despite a recent surge in violence. High-profile attacks this past week primarily targeted Shiite worshippers. More than 150 people, many of them Iranian pilgrims, have died.

Ahead of her arrival, Clinton said the attacks are a sign that extremists are afraid the Iraqi government is succeeding.

“I think that these suicide bombings … are unfortunately, in a tragic way, a signal that the rejectionists fear that Iraq is going in the right direction,” Clinton told reporters aboard her plane.

Violence is at its lowest since the months following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. But sectarian attacks have exposed gaps in security as Iraq takes over from U.S. forces in protecting the country.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered a military task force to investigate the attacks as well as shortcomings that allowed the assailants to slip through. The government on Saturday also ordered heightened security at major Shiite shrines.

The Pentagon plans to hand over responsibility for most urban security in about three months as part of the administration’s goal of a complete exit of forces by the end of 2011.

U.S. officials say they remain committed to a June 30 deadline to move all forces outside major cities, including Baghdad. But the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, has said American troops could “maintain a presence” in some cities if requested by the Iraqis.

“Frankly, some people are afraid,” said one participant in the town hall who said many questioned the ability, competence and neutrality of Iraq’s security forces, given the U.S. withdrawal plan.

“There is nothing more important than to have a united Iraq,” Clinton replied. “The more united Iraq is, the more you will trust your security services. The security services have to earn your trust but the people have to demand it.”

“We will be working closely with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security forces as we withdraw our combat troops, but we need to be sure that all of you are supporting a strong, nonsectarian security force and we will work to try and help make that happen,” she said.

Clinton was met at the airport by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and the new U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Christopher Hill.