Strong words regarding the Iranian and Syrian regimes came from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the American Jewish Conference's annual conference April 29, 2010, according to CNN.
Iranian leader's anti-Semitism, nuclear ambitions, and hostility condemned
Clinton heavily criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his hostility and lack of cooperation with the West over major nuclear and security concerns and anti-Semitic remarks.
"Iran... continues to threaten Israel, destabilize the region, and sponsor terror," Clinton reportedly told the assembly.
Clinton's harsh rebuke comes before Ahmadinejad is due to arrive in New York for a United Nations conference on nuclear non-proliferation beginning May 3, 2010. The U.S. government is likely to approve his request for a visa, according to CNN.
Human rights another issue between the two countries
Tensions between Iran and the U.S., which has also expressed concern about the Tehran regime's human rights record, hit Chicago as well when Roxana Saberi, a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in north suburban Evanston, was imprisoned in a notorious prison facility in Iran on charges of being a spy.
A special report for the Chicago Tribune followed-up with Saberi who, reflecting on the experience a year after her release, said she was galvanized during her captivity by news that fellow students rallied together for her freedom. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Iranian governments became involved in a high-profile diplomatic tug-of-war the over her case.
Iranian-Americans were also very vocal during the series of mass street demonstrations in Iran protesting alleged electoral fraud that saw Ahmadinejad being re-elected despite initial forecasts that a more moderate opponent would win. Rallies were staged in Chicago and other major American cities in sympathy with the Iranian demonstrators and Twitter became a hotspot for opponents of the regime worldwide.
Syria also on Clinton's hit-list
Clinton also spoke of the "grave dangers of Syria's transfer of weapons to [Hezbollah]," a strongly anti-Israel political group active in Lebanon that has been labeled by the U.S. a terrorist group. She said such an action and policy by Damascus would seriously threaten stability in a region where tensions and hostilities run high and also violate a resolution by the UN Security Council.
"We do not accept such provocative and destabilizing behavior -- and nor should the international community," Clinton said. "President Assad is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region."
She stressed that Obama's plan to appoint an ambassador to Syria is not "a reward or a concession," but that the engagement was in part "aimed at changing Syria's behavior."