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Department Press Briefing - May 20, 2024
QUESTION: Thank you. I know you extended official condolences of the U.S. for the death of Iran's president and foreign minister over the weekend. The U.S. also participated in a moment of silence for President Raisi at the UN Security Council, and it sparked some controversy on Twitter. Does the State Department view that as appropriate, taking part in that kind of observance?
MILLER: Let me say a few things. One, we have been quite clear that Ebrahim Raisi was a brutal participant in the repression of the Iranian people for nearly four decades. He was involved in numerous horrific human rights abuses, including playing a key role in the extrajudicial killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Some of the worst human rights abuses occurred during his tenure as president, especially the human rights abuses against the women and girls of Iran.

That said, we regret any loss of life. We don't want to see anyone die in a helicopter crash. But that doesn't change the reality of his record both as a judge and as the president of Iran and the fact that he has blood on his hands. So, I think, most importantly, our fundamental approach to Iran has not changed and will not change. We will continue to support the people of Iran, to defend their human rights, their aspirations to an open, free society and democratic participation. And we will continue to confront the Iranian regime's support for terrorism, its proliferation of dangerous weapons, and its advancement of nuclear—its nuclear program in ways that have no credible civilian purpose.
QUESTION: All right. And then can I just ask you about the statement? What exactly is official condolences?
MILLER: It's the condolences on behalf of the United States Government.
QUESTION: Well, then why doesn't it say that? This is like official condolences means absolutely nothing, and I'm not even sure why you're offering condolences if this guy was as bad as you say he was.
QUESTION: Why? I mean—
MILLER: Because we regret any loss of life. We don't want to see people die in helicopter crashes. It doesn't change our view of him, our view of the regime. But I'll say that there are—there are—
QUESTION: Really? There is not one person that you can think of that the United States didn't want to see in an air accident, ever? Really, none?
QUESTION: Thank you, Matt. Do you have any reactions and comments on the former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as he said that—he claims that the U.S. is one of the main responsible for the Iranian president helicopter crash due to the sanctions?
MILLER: So, first of all, we are not going to apologize for our sanctions regime at all. The Iranian Government has used its aircraft to transport equipment to support terrorism. So, we will continue to fully enforce our sanctions regime, including our sanctions regimes on aircraft for use by the Iranian Government. Ultimately, it's the Iranian Government that is responsible for the decision to fly a 45-year-old helicopter in what was described as poor weather conditions, not any other actor.

omitted here, a discursion into the merits and composition of "official condolences".
by Cat on Tue May 21st, 2024 at 01:55:22 PM EST

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