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Obama rejects Iran apology call
US president rejects demand by Tehran that he apologise for condemning crackdown.
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2009 04:03 GMT
Obama and Merkel held talks on Iran in
Washington on Friday [AFP]

Barack Obama, the US president, has rejected a demand by his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he apologise for condemning Iran's protest crackdown.

At least 19 people have been killed and many more imprisoned in the protests against alleged fraud in Iran's June 12 presidential election, which Ahmadinejad won.

"I don't take Mr Ahmadinejad's statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran," Obama said during a news conference on Friday in Washington with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He reiterated his criticism of Tehran, saying the government had "moved outside of universal norms" over its treatment of protesters.

Obama said Ahmadinejad's chief rival, Mir Hussein Mousavi, had "captured the imagination" of Iranians.

Merkel, on her part, pledged an effort to identify the victims of violence of Iran, saying: "Iran cannot count on the world turning a blind eye."

Earlier on Friday, members of G8, the group of the world's largest economies, said at a conference in Italy that they "deplore" the post-election violence in Iran  and urged the Islamic republic to "respect fundamental human rights".

Nuclear talks impact

Obama admitted that dialogue with Iran over its nuclear programme could be affected by the fallout from the elections.

In depth

The latest on Iran's post-election unrest


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"There is no doubt that any direct dialogue or diplomacy with Iran is going to be affected by the events of the last several weeks and we don't yet know how any potential dialogue will have been affected until we see what has happened inside of Iran," he said.

World powers have called on Iran to halt its nuclear programme amid fears that it could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran insists that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes.

Ahmadinejad had compared Obama to his predecessor George Bush in an escalation of the war of words between Tehran and Washington.

"Why do you speak so impolitely with this great nation?" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a petrochemical complex's inauguration ceremony in south Iran on Thursday.

He said in the speech broadcast on Iranian state television: "I hope you will avoid interfering in Iran's affairs.

"This is our friendly advice; we don't want to see the big disgraces of the Bush era to be repeated in the new US era."

Source:
Agencies
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