West reacts with caution to Ahmadinejad's re-election

The United States and the European Union have reacted cautiously to the Iranian election in which incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been declared winner. The EU nevertheless said it hoped to resume dialogue over Tehran's nuclear programme.


The European Union, as well as world powers including France, the United States, and Britain, reacted cautiously Saturday to the disputed Iranian presidential election in which incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been declared winner.

The European Union expressed concern about alleged irregularities in Iran’s presidential election on Saturday, but said it hoped to resume dialogue with Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme.

In a statement, the Czech EU presidency noted the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second four-year term and also said it was concerned about violence that erupted after the official results were announced.

Iran’s Interior Ministry said Ahmadinejad won 62.6 percent of the vote, against 33.7 percent for reformist candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, who branded the results a dangerous charade” that would “establish tyranny”.

“The presidency hopes that the outcome of the presidential elections will bring the opportunity to resume dialogue on the nuclear issue and clear up the Iranian position in this regard,” the EU presidency statement said.

“The presidency expects the new government of the Islamic Republic of Iran will take its responsibility towards the international community and respect its international obligations,” it added.

As thousands of supporters of the main challenger, moderate ex-premier Mir Hossein Mousavi, swept through Tehran in protest, France’s foreign ministry said it “took note” of Ahmadinejad’s re-election as well as the “contested result.”

But it also noted that the result had been disputed by two of Ahmadinejad’s rivals for the presidency, said a ministry statement.

“We have taken note of the results of the presidential elections in Iran as announced by the Iranian authorities, which return Mr Ahmadinejad for a second term in his functions at the head of the Iranian government, and that they have been challenged by two of the candidates,” said the statement.

“We are continuing to follow the situation closely,” it added.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed hope the result would reflect the will of voters.

“The United States has refrained from commenting on the election in Iran. We obviously hope that the outcome reflects the genuine will and desire of the Iranian people,” Clinton said.

The US was “monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran,” she added, following allegations of voting irregularities.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Canada was “deeply concerned” by reports that the election was not free and fair.

“We’re troubled by reports of intimidation, of opposition candidates’ offices, by security forces,” he said.

William Hague, foreign affairs spokesman for Britain’s main opposition Conservative Party, said the result was a “blow to all those Iranians who had hoped for a change in leadership, reform in their country and better relations with the outside world.”

He said he was “particularly concerned by reports that the result was rigged... If this is indeed the case, it bodes ill for hopes that Iran is ready to pursue a path of engagement rather than defiance in respect of its nuclear programme.”

In Moscow, the chairman of the Duma (parliament) Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev said he hoped Ahmadinejad would “show more understanding and wisdom towards the international community during his second term.”

Danny Ayalon, Deputy foreign minister of Israel, whose hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regards Iran as the greatest threat faced by his country since its creation in 1948, expressed disappointment.

“The results of the election show, now more than ever, how much stronger the Iranian threat has become,” Ayalon said.

“The international community must stop the nuclear programme and the terrorism coming from Iran,” Ayalon added in a statement, referring to Iran’s nuclear energy drive which major powers fear could hide efforts to build atomic weapons.

The Arab League urged Ahmadinejad to use his re-election to resolve the nuclear issue and establish peace and security in the Middle East.

“We hope to work together to achieve regional security through ridding the Middle East East of weapons of mass destruction,” said Arab League chief Amr Mussa, according to Egypt’s MENA news agency.

The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, founded in July 1981 in Tehran to oppose the fundamentalist regime ruling Iran and establish a pluralist democracy, deplored the result.

It said it would lead to the “redoubling of efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, rise in export of terrorism and fundamentalism, further meddling in Iraq and incitement of conflict in the region.

Based on its network within in Iran monitoring 25,000 polling stations, it put the “real voter turnout” at 7.5 million compared with the nearly 40 million claimed.

“The theocratic dictatorship, which has never allowed international observers to monitor elections in Iran, usually inflates voter turnout by four to five times,” it added.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, in a message, stressed the need for the two countries to “work together to achieve lasting and comprehensive peace in the region and the world,” the state-run SANA news agency said.

In Kabul, Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said, “The wish of Afghanistan is to see a stable and proud Iran.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez telephoned Ahmadinejad to congratulate him, telling him the victory “represents the feeling and commitment of the Iranian people to building a new world.”

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