Clinton Says Ball In Iran's Court

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Hillary Clinton told reporters at the State Department that with Barack Obama now in the White House, Iran has a "clear opportunity" to engage meaningfully. She also said she had sensed relief among foreign diplomats with the change of administration.


From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Robert Siegel. As the Obama administration enters its second week, it's taking a fresh look at U.S. foreign policy. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she is reviewing everything from North Korea to Iran. And she says Iran has an opportunity to engage by taking a less confrontational approach. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Secretary Clinton came into the press room at the State Department to offer reporters a bit of insight into how the Obama administration will do things differently from its predecessor when it comes to diplomacy, and she says she's been getting lots of good feedback from the world leaders she's been calling.

Secretary HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (United States Departmnet of State): There's a great exhalation of breath going on around the world as people express their appreciation for the new direction that's being said and the team that's put together by the president to carry out our foreign policy goals.

KELEMEN: Already the administration's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is on his first trip to the region. Secretary Clinton says he's focused, for now, on short-term objectives, consolidating a shaky cease-fire in Gaza.

On Iran, Secretary Clinton echoed the comments that President Barack Obama made in an interview with Al-Arabiya. That is, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fists, then they will find an extended hand from the Obama administration.

Secretary CLINTON: There is a clear opportunity for the Iranians, as the president expressed in his interview, to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community. Whether or not that hand becomes less clenched is really up to them.

KELEMEN: The secretary of state did not suggest any quick movement on that front, and she signalled some continuity on U.S. policy toward North Korea. Clinton said that the six party talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament have been essential, though all of this is under, as she put it, a vigorous review. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

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