Friday, June 26, 2009

US hits back at Ahmadinejad claim


The White House has accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of seeking to blame the US for unrest following Iran's disputed election.

The US replied one day after Mr Ahmadinejad was sharply critical of President Barack Obama for condemning Iranian violence against protesters.

Tehran's leadership has accused foreign governments of fuelling the protests.

G8 foreign ministers meeting in Italy are currently considering a response to the post-election violence in Iran.

War of words

"There are people in Iran who want to make this not about a debate among Iranians in Iran, but about the West and the United States," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"I would add President Ahmadinejad to that list of people trying to make this about the United States."


  • 12 June Presidential election saw incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected with 63% of vote
  • Main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi called for result to be annulled for electoral fraud
  • Street protests saw at least 17 people killed and foreign media restricted
  • He was speaking in response to an angry statement made by Mr Ahmadinejad on Thursday. He told Mr Obama to avoid "interfering in Iran's affairs".

    "Our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously [former US President George W] Bush used to say," Mr Ahmadinejad was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying.

    President Obama on Tuesday made his strongest comments yet on the "unjust" violence used against the protesters in Iran.

    "The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days," he said.

    But despite the increasingly pointed rhetoric, the substance of the Obama policy remains towards Iran unchanged, the BBC's Richard Lister in Washington.

    The US regards its main priority as addressing Iran's nuclear programme and its support for militant groups, and Mr Obama has made clear repeatedly that the offer of talks with Tehran is still on the table, our correspondent adds.

    G8 discussions

    Some Western nations are continuing to criticise Iran's handling of the crisis.

    Tensions between Iran and the UK are already strained after Tehran accused Britain of inflaming the protests - charges London denies.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also spoken out. "We stand beside you," she said on Wednesday, referring to "all in Iran who seek to demonstrate peacefully".

    At the G8 meeting in Trieste, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the foreign ministers were working on a document to condemn the "violence and the repression" in Iran.

    However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said isolating Iran would be the wrong approach and engagement is key.

    In Iran itself, defeated presidential candidate and protest figurehead Mir Hossein Mousavi on Thursday accused those behind the alleged "rigged" elections of being responsible for the bloodshed during the protests.

    He complained of "complete" restrictions on his access to people and a crackdown on his media group.

    At least 25 people - including eight members of the pro-government Basij militia - are reported to have been killed and dozens more wounded in the protests since the disputed election on 12 June.

    The figures cannot be verified due to severe reporting restrictions inside Iran.

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