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On 30th anniversary of Tehran hostage crisis, Obama says 'Iran must choose' its role in world affairs

November 3, 2009 | 10:51 pm

Hostage

President Obama marked the 30th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by issuing some tough talk about Iran.

In remarks released late tonight, shortly before the Nov. 4 anniversary date Wednesday, Obama said, “It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people.”

The White House also planned to release the president’s statement in Persian. Here are the president’s remarks, as prepared by the White House:

Thirty years ago today, the American Embassy in Tehran was seized. The 444 days that began on November 4, 1979, deeply affected the lives of courageous Americans who were unjustly held hostage, and we owe these Americans and their families our gratitude for their extraordinary service and sacrifice.

This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust, and confrontation. I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs. We have condemned terrorist attacks against Iran. We have recognized Iran’s international right to peaceful nuclear power. We have demonstrated our willingness to take confidence-building steps along with others in the international community. We have accepted a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet Iran’s request for assistance in meeting the medical needs of its people. We have made clear that if Iran lives up to the obligations that every nation has, it will have a path to a more prosperous and productive relationship with the international community.

Iran must choose. We have heard for thirty years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for. The American people have great respect for the people of Iran and their rich history. The world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice, and their courageous pursuit of universal rights. It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people.

-- Steve Padilla

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File photo: One of the American hostages is surrounded by some of his captors at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. Some former captives have identified the second man from the right as Iran’s future President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; other former hostages have said the man pictured is not Ahmadinejad.

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