(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had yet to voice her support for Saudi women who have defied a ban on driving in the ultra-conservative kingdom, preferring, according to her spokesperson, to pursue “quiet diplomacy.”
But Tuesday that silence was broken when Clinton was asked why she had not spoken out. She called the women “brave” but her answer betrays the delicacy of the issue, noting that it is important that Saudi authorities realize this is not being pushed by foreign powers, but rather by Saudi women themselves.
Clinton says the matter has been raised at the “highest level” and emphasized how allowing women to drive will contribute to the stability and prosperity of Saudi Arabia.
“Let me start by saying that this is about Saudi women themselves. They have joined together. They are acting on behalf of their own rights. This is not about the United States. It is about the women of Saudi Arabia. And what these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right," Clinton said Tuesday.
She continued, "...I am moved by it and I support them, but I want to underscore the fact that this is not coming from outside of their country. This is the women themselves seeking to be recognized. And we have raised this issue at the highest level of the Saudi government."
As for what the U.S. will do, Clinton said that the United States will continue to urge foreign governments to address discrimination issues to ensure equal opportunities to women.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio