Speaking at the July 7 State Department press briefing in Washington, Boucher called on the Iranian authorities to listen to the demonstrators.
"[T]he Iranian people are calling for much more democracy and for real democracy and open democracy," he said. "So that remains the area where we express our support...."
Following is an excerpt from the July 7 State Department briefing:
QUESTION: I know last Thursday it was brought up about Secretary Powell's comment that President Khatami is freely elected, but I'm a little confused. I mean, it seems a bit like a game of pinball. Back in February, Armitage called Iran a democracy. Phil, last month, in response to a question, said that Iran actually has elements of democracy, but is not a democracy. And now we find out that President Khatami is freely elected.
How, exactly, does the State Department view the Government of Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, I would say that there is an exhaustive discussion of how we view the state of democracy, or lack thereof, in Iran in our Human Rights Reports, and that's a much more extensive discussion than any of us are able to give in comments at a podium somewhere.
We certainly have seen elements of democracy. We've certainly seen some democratic voting, democratic processes in Iran. But we also know that the Iranian people are calling for much more democracy and for real democracy and open democracy. So that remains the area where we express our support, and we've been quite clear in expressing our support that the desires for greater democracies by the Iranian -- greater democracy by the Iranian people, that those desires are heeded.
QUESTION: A follow-up on that. As you pointed out, a lot of the students are -- and the other demonstrators -- are calling for real democracy, as you say, and many of them don't see a distinction between Khatami and the mullahs, given that he was only one of four candidates out of 238 who was considered acceptable to run --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've tried to draw any great distinction there, either.
QUESTION: Well, it would see that there was a distinction made by Secretary Powell, and maybe that was unintentional, in his radio interview last Wednesday.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he was making a distinction. He was just noting the fact that there have been, more or less, democratic elections conducted, that there's --
QUESTION: Right, but freely elected and (inaudible) freedom (inaudible) isn't there.
MR. BOUCHER: -- truly a desire for greater democracy, and we've made very clear we stand on the side of those who desire greater democracy.
QUESTION: Fair enough. So do you have a message, then, for the students who do not believe that President Khatami is, or was, freely elected and who are going to be demonstrating, most likely, in two days on the anniversary, on the July 9 anniversary --
MR. BOUCHER: Our message has been and remains that we support democracy in Iran, like we support it everywhere; that we believe that the calls of the Iranian people, including the students who are demonstrating, need to be listened to, need to be heeded; and that the kind of change that they are asking for would be good for Iran and good for Iran's place in the world.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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