NEW YORK: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not call for regime change in Tehran when she asked at the weekend for "responsible" leaders to assert control in Iran, her spokesman said Monday.
Clinton said the military, especially the elite Revolutionary Guard, was wielding more and more power to prop up a regime struggling to maintain its legitimacy since last year’s "very flawed" presidential elections.
"And I can only hope that there will be some effort inside Iran, by responsible civil and religious leaders, to take hold of the apparatus of the state," she told ABC News on Sunday.
But her spokesman Philip Crowley, questioned by reporters in New York while Clinton attended the UN General Assembly, said her appeal did not amount to a call for regime change.
"No," he replied.
"She was simply questioning the relationship between some elements of the regime and the growing importance of the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and military elements within the Iranian hierarchy," he said.
"The military elements, security elements have taken a more prominent role in terms of the suppression of people’s ability to assemble, to demonstrate, to engage in political activity," Crowley said.
"To the extent that there are leaders in Iran who see themselves as being responsible for, responsive to all the people, they should step forward," Crowley said.