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Clinton Warns Iran: Talk Now or Face New Penalties

Secretary of State in major speech: Iran should respond to U.S. overtures now or face punishment and isolation.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/15/2009, 6:55 PM

Israel News Photo: (file)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran that it has only limited time to sit down and talk to the Obama administration about its nuclear program or face new penalties and isolation.

In a major foreign policy address Wednesday, Clinton said the time for Iran to respond to America's overture is now, and that "the opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."

Clinton also used the relatively harsh language that the Obama administration has adopted since Iran’s violent crackdown on protesters following the disputed election there last month. She accused Iran of using "deplorable and unacceptable" actions to put down the street protests which erupted after the poll results were published.

Clinton added that neither she nor President Barack Obama harbor illusions about the nature of the Iranian regime but that they believe that direct talks are the best way to get the government there to change its policies.

The statements were part of a major policy address that Clinton delivered Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. The speech highlighted the concept of "smart power" along with danger of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the threats posed by Iran and North Korea, and the need for Middle East peace.

On Thursday she will be taking off for India and Thailand, following four weeks of relative inaction, after she fell and injured her elbow.

Yisrael Hayom reported on Wednesday that U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell has decided to postpone his upcoming trip to Israel until he sees Arab peace gestures. "Yesterday it was made known that [US special Middle East] envoy George Mitchell's visit to Israel was postponed to the end of the month as he is also waiting for gestures from the Arab world,” said the report.

“Originally the envoy was supposed to come for a visit this week or next week - but yesterday the Americans announced that the visit would only take place at the end off the month," the paper added.