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Hillary Clinton Has Emotional Meeting With Families Of Hikers Detained In Iran

MATTHEW LEE   11/ 5/09 03:42 PM ET   AP

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WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had an emotional meeting on Thursday with the families of three American hikers detained in Iran since late July and renewed appeals to Iranian authorities to release them.

Clinton met at the State Department with the families of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal and said afterward that as a parent herself, she sympathized with them. She said the U.S. government is doing everything it can to get the trio released and called on Iran to free them on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

"These three young people are obviously not only on the minds of their family members but on the minds of all of us," Clinton told reporters after the closed-door talks with the families. "It was an emotional meeting and I described to the families everything that we are doing."

"I was impressed by their strength and fortitude and commitment. They are determined, as we are, to see these young people returned home," she said. "As a mother, my heart went out to all of them. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to know that your child was imprisoned, for now 100 days, with very little contact between you and them."

The three, arrested for illegal entry near the Iraq border, are in a Tehran prison. They have been allowed only two visits by Swiss diplomats who represent U.S. interests in Iran.

Bauer, Shourd and Fattal were arrested July 31 after straying over the Iranian border while hiking in northern Iraq. All are graduates of the University of California, Berkeley. The U.S. government and their families have said they were vacationing and did not mean to cross the border.

"We are exploring every angle," Clinton said.

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On the Net:

State Department: http://www.state.gov

Families' Web site: http://freethehikers.org

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Filed by Elyse Siegel  |