WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday reaffirmed a U.S. offer to engage directly with Iran's leaders despite last month's post-election violence but urged Iran to respond soon.
"The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely," Clinton said.
As for the success of such talks, she acknowledged: "The prospects have certainly shifted" after Iran's use of violence to quell large protests against alleged vote fraud by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies.
The Obama administration faces growing domestic pressure to show that its preferred strategy of diplomacy with Iran can produce results. President Barack Obama said last week that leading nations will re-evaluate the situation at a late September summit of G-20 countries. The G-20 is an informal economic development forum of finance ministers and central bank governors.
Clinton spoke about Iran as part of a foreign policy address that laid out principles that would guide U.S. foreign policy during the Obama years.
The speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington policy-research organization, came against the backdrop of criticism that Clinton, has not put a personal imprint on foreign policy and has been overshadowed by the White House.
Clinton aides sharply dispute that, saying she has been active on many fronts, from handling crisis in Honduras to overhauling U.S. foreign aid and diplomatic operations. She leaves today on a weeklong trip to India and Thailand.
In the speech, Clinton made clear her and Obama's default method of dealing with global problems such as climate change, poverty and nuclear proliferation will be multilateral.
"Just as no nation can meet these challenges alone, no challenge can be met without America," she said.