State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to criticize Iran for excluding women candidates from the upcoming "election" there. The remarkable exchange, which concludes with Psaki saying this (“We want this [election] to be free and fair. There’s a lot of ways to, of course, define that.”) happened at Friday's press briefing.
QUESTION:Jen, can I change the subject? It would seem that in Iran the Guardians Council, which is vetting the candidates for the upcoming elections next month, have decided and have ruled that women cannot contest, they cannot stand as candidates. I wondered what the United States reaction is to that, considering that 50 person of the population in Iran is women – are women.
MS. PSAKI:Well, we don’t take positions on any candidates, as you know, and we hope that the upcoming elections will be free, fair, and transparent and will represent the will of the Iranian people. So we wouldn’t weight into decisions made by the government. Of course, broadly, we hope that women around the world participate in politics and elected office, but beyond that I don’t think I have anything specific for you.
QUESTION:Taking the word “fair” – if you’re being fair, it would seem to exclude 50 percent of the population from an election, would already mean that it is not a fair election.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t weigh in on to the candidates and the candidates that are chosen through the process in Iran. Of course, of course, broadly speaking we do want women to participate in elections around the world and rise up in elected office.
QUESTION:Just not in Iran?