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American Hostages in Iran Remarks to State Department Employees.

December 07, 1979

. . . in the last 30 days has been not only the support and understanding and patience of the American people and the strength of the hostages' families but also the superb work of the State Department and all of you, who I know have put in many extra hours, prayers, and extra commitments to help protect the lives and the safety of our hostages.

The most important single message that I can give to you is this: As far as I am concerned, as far as the State Department is concerned, as far as our Nation is concerned, there is one issue, and that is the early and the safe release of the American hostages from their captors in Tehran. And it's important for us to realize that from the very first hour of the captivity of our hostages by a mob, who is indistinguishable from the Government itself, that has been our purpose. And we have tried to restrain every other' nation and the United Nations and the people in our own country from confusing the issues.

At this time, I am not interested in trying to resolve whether or not the Shah was a good or bad leader or the history of Iran. I'm not trying to interfere in the Government of Iran or the inclination of the people there, and we do not want to confuse the issue by injecting these extraneous questions or debates into the present situation. When that does happen, in my opinion, it delays the day when we will see the American hostages come home.

I am not going to take any military action that would cause bloodshed or arouse the unstable captors of our hostages to attack them or to punish them. I'm going to be very moderate, very cautious, guided and supported and advised by Secretary Vance. Our purpose is to get the hostages home and get them safe. That's my total commitment, and I know you join with me as full partners in this effort.

Just one other comment: I'm not trying to be presumptuous in speaking for them, but there's no doubt in my mind that every hostage and every person who loves those hostages, not just the families but 220 million American people, thank you-working with Secretary Vance and all those in this Department—for the superb work that you have done in ensuring, so far, the safety in which I am confident and which I pray every moment of my life will be successful in getting our hostages home where they belong.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:20 p.m. in the lobby at the State Department. Prior to his remarks, the President and Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance met with members of the families of the hostages in the Benjamin Franklin Room.

The press release does not include the President's opening remarks.

Jimmy Carter, American Hostages in Iran Remarks to State Department Employees. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248039

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