Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6408
Email: [email protected]

Jamal Abdi, the Policy Director of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement regarding EU High Representative Catherine Ashton’s landmark trip to Iran this weekend:

“Catherine Ashton’s trip to Iran is a welcome step towards resolving the tensions between Iran and the West through dialogue and diplomacy.  Institutionalized silence and pressure politics have only deepened distrust, which has played into the hands of hardliners, perpetuated the nuclear crisis and seen the human rights situation in Iran deteriorate.

“Lady Ashton deserves praise, particularly for her efforts to highlight the international community’s concerns regarding the human rights situation in Iran. Not only did Ashton raise concerns about human rights in Iran with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, she also met with several women’s rights activists at the Austrian Embassy in Tehran. While such visits do not in and of themselves provide systemic change to the human rights situation in Iran, they are necessary steps towards that goal. Indeed, carefully calibrated dialogue can put more pressure on human rights abusers than silence or empty condemnations.

“The Iranian people have created a critical opportunity for moderation of both Iran’s domestic and foreign policies.  Thus far, the international community and the Rouhani administration have focused primarily on the nuclear issue, and those efforts have yielded some success.  But progress in one area can build trust and open new opportunities for dialogue on other vital issues.  As negotiations proceed toward a final nuclear deal, other nations should follow the example of the EU and Lady Ashton by increasing contact and expanding the agenda of dialogue to include human rights.  Ultimately, no sustainable solution to the conflict can be found unless human rights are prominently included on the agenda.


The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. We accomplish our mission by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision-making by policymakers.


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