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State Dept. Spokeswoman Refuses to Criticize Iran for Excluding Women Candidates from Election

“We want this [election] to be free and fair. There’s a lot of ways to, of course, define that.”

2:01 PM, May 20, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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 I’m not suggesting that, Arshad. I’m just suggesting that we leave it to the process that happens in Iran for them to pick their candidates.

QUESTION: But I mean why – it seems astounding that this Department – I mean, what if they decided to exclude, as this country once did, not merely women but black people? Would that be acceptable to you? That’s just their choice; they do it any way they want and you’re not going to stand up for democratic rights?

MS. PSAKI: I think we pretty broadly stand up for democratic rights from this building.

QUESTION: Just not for Iranian women, apparently.

MS. PSAKI: That’s not at all what I was conveying. I think there are two separate issues here. Of course, we want women to participate in processes around the world, whether that is participating in voting or being elected to office. Of course.

More specifically, in terms of how candidates are selected, we don’t weigh in on specific candidates, of course, as the Government of Iran is picking them. But broadly, yes, we would like women to be participating at every level.

QUESTION: Including in Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Including around the world.

QUESTION: But – no but --

QUESTION: This is not a process. This is a clear case of gender discrimination, no? Isn’t that a difference between a vetting procedure and just saying, “All women no”? I mean, you’ve got to take a stand on something like that.

MS. PSAKI: Again, Brad, I think I made pretty clear – I don’t know that I have much more to add – that of course we have long supported women being elected to office in the United States and around the world and participating in the process. We want this to be free and fair. There’s a lot of ways to, of course, define that. But again, we don’t select or play a role in selecting who the candidates are. We can take a look through the process, and happy to comment once it’s completed.

Psaki is a veteran of the Obama campaign.

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