West Urges Iran To Allow Protests, Recount Votes
Monday, 22 June 2009

Iran must allow peaceful protests against its disputed presidential election and ensure a fair result, Western governments said on Sunday, rejecting charges they were interfering in Iranian affairs.

Foreign countries have played no part in supporting the violent street protests that erupted in Iran after its June 12 election, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

He dismissed comments from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling on the United States and Britain to stop interfering in the Islamic Republic's internal affairs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Iranian authorities to recount votes, refrain from using violence against demonstrators, free detained opposition members and allow free media reporting of the protests.

"Germany is on the side of the Iranian people, who want to exercise their rights of freedom of expression and free assembly," she said in a statement.

Mass protests erupted in Tehran after official figures showed hardline incumbent Ahmadinejad had won the election by a landslide. His main opponent, reformer Mirhossein Mousavi, says the vote was rigged. The government denies the charge.

Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling clerics on Sunday: "Definitely by hasty remarks you will not be placed in the circle of friendship with the Iranian nation. Therefore I advise you to correct your interfering stances," in remarks the ISNA news agency said were directed at U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

'DAMAGE IRAN'

"I reject categorically the idea that the protesters in Iran are manipulated or motivated by foreign countries," Miliband said. "The UK is categorical that it is for the Iranian people to choose their government and for the Iranian authorities to ensure the fairness of the result and the protection of their own people."

Clashes between police and protesters, in which Iranian state TV says 10 people died, were to be "deplored", he said. "This can only damage Iran's standing in the eyes of the world."

Obama, who has been trying to mend ties with Iran since taking office in January, has urged Tehran to "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people".

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: "We ask the Iranian government to urgently adopt conditions to create a peaceful solution to the internal crisis. The right to safeguard human lives comes before everything else."

But Frattini confirmed an invitation to Iran to attend a G8 meeting in Italy next week to discuss stability in Afghanistan.

In The Hague, about 100 people gathered in front of the International Court of Justice to show support for protesters in Iran, Dutch media reported. On Saturday, hundreds of people attended a vigil in Amsterdam for victims of the violence.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said tensions in Iran had added to risks facing the world economy.

"You can talk about Iran as part of a wider analysis that would be associated with risks for the oil markets, not just because of Iran but because of the whole region," he told Europe 1 radio.

Source: bdnews24.com

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