Clinton Still Hopeful Iran Hikers Will be Released

Thursday, Sep 15, 2011  |  Updated 5:05 PM PDT
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Australian dignitaries in San Francisco tonight. It comes as the push continues for the release of two U.S. hikers from Iran. NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd reports.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Australian dignitaries in San Francisco tonight. It comes as the push continues for the release of two U.S. hikers from Iran. NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd reports.

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U.S. officials are expressing optimism that the two American hikers being held in Iran will be released.       

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday in San Francisco they continue to hope that the Iranian regime will release the two men as a humanitarian gesture.       

"We continue to hope that the two young americans will be released as part of a humanitarian gesture by the Iranian government. We have seen in the past some delays that have occurred after decisions were announced. So, that at this point we are not at all concerned because we have received word through a number of sources, publicly and privately  that the decision will be executed on and that we will see their return to their families," Clinton said.

Clinton said the U.S. has received word through a number of sources that the hikers will be released and returned to their families.       

Officials said Arab countries Oman and Iraq were involved in negotiations for the release of the two Americans, as efforts intensified over a $1 million bail-for-freedom plan.       

The hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were detained along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009, charged with spying and sentenced to jail. They have denied the spying charges.

Panetta and Clinton were in the Bay Area  to meet with the Australian defense and foreign ministers, Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith.  They want to add cyber attacks to a decades old ANZUS treaty, signed by the two countries in San Francisco on Sept. 1, 1961.

The agreement covers when the two countries will work to defend each other.

The American diplomats will dine with their Australian counterparts in San Francisco's Presidio complex Thursday night, where they will discuss the new terms.

Clinton and Panetta arrived in the Bay Area on Wednesday to also discuss a base-sharing agreement between the two countries and a possible plan to let American soldiers train down under.

Clinton will switch gears Friday.  She will stay in the City and take part in a Women’s Economic Summit at the Westin St. Francis. She will give the keynote speech there at 9 a.m.

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