Monday, July 24, 2006

Iran activist 'snubs White House'


Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji declined to meet White House officials during a visit to the US, he has told the BBC.

Mr Ganji said he had been invited to discuss the current situation in Iran. The White House declined to comment.

He said he rejected the offer because he believed current US policies could not help promote democracy in Iran.

In a speech last week in Washington DC, he also criticised US policy in Iraq, saying: "You cannot bring democracy to a country by attacking it".

He added that the war in Iraq had helped Islamic fundamentalism and hampered the democracy movement in the region.

A group of Iranian dissidents met State Department official Nicholas Burns and Elliot Abrams, an adviser to the National Security Council, while Mr Ganji was in Washington last week.

Mr Ganji said he believed such meetings would undermine the credibility of the Iranian opposition.

However, Mr Ganji added that if Iranian opposition were united and they had a recognised leadership, they could negotiate with US officials to find the best ways of helping promote democracy and human rights in Iran.

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