U.S. denied Iran official visa for U.N. meeting: envoy
Fri Jun 26, 2009
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Tehran's U.N. envoy on Friday accused the United States of denying Iran's first vice president and members of his delegation visas to attend a three-day U.N. conference on the global financial crisis.
"I am indeed delivering this speech on behalf of Dr. (Parviz) Davoudi, first vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who along with members of the Iranian delegation was not able to participate in the conference," Iranian U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee told the U.N. General Assembly.
"Their entry visas were not issued by the host country," he added, referring to the United States.
It was not clear whether the alleged visa denial was related to the Iranian government's crackdown on demonstrators who have been protesting for nearly two weeks against what they say was a rigged presidential election in which hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a landslide victory.
A U.S. official said he was looking into Khazaee's statement.
Washington cut off diplomatic relations with Tehran in 1980 during a hostage crisis in which Iranian militants occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held a group of U.S. diplomats and officials captive for 444 days.
As the host country of the U.N. Secretariat in New York City, Washington has followed a policy of setting aside bilateral disputes with individual countries regarding visas for members of U.N. delegations.
Although the United States has continued to grant the visas, it does
sometimes refuse entry to Iranian government officials and professionals.
Last year, Tehran said the United States denied visas to members of Iran's blind weightlifting team who were hoping to attend an international tournament in Miami.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau)
Iranian envoy: CIA involved in Neda's shooting?
Thu June 25, 2009
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- The United States may have been behind the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old Iranian woman whose fatal videotaped shooting Saturday made her a symbol of opposition to the June 12 presidential election results, the country's ambassador to Mexico said Thursday.
Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot to death in Tehran on Saturday.
"This death of Neda is very suspicious," Ambassador Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri said. "My question is, how is it that this Miss Neda is shot from behind, got shot in front of several cameras, and is shot in an area where no significant demonstration was behind held?"
He suggested that the CIA or another intelligence service may have been responsible.
"Well, if the CIA wants to kill some people and attribute that to the government elements, then choosing women is an appropriate choice,
because the death of a woman draws more sympathy," Ghadiri said.
In response, CIA spokesman George Little said, "Any suggestion that the CIA was responsible for the death of this young woman is wrong, absurd and offensive."
Though the video appeared to show that she had been shot in the chest, Ghadiri said that the bullet was found in her head and that it was not of a type used in Iran.
"These are the methods that terrorists, the CIA and spy agencies employ," he said. "Naturally, they would like to see blood spilled in
these demonstrations, so that they can use it against the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is of the common methods that the CIA employs in various countries."
Who was Neda? Slain woman an unlikely martyr But, he added, "I am not saying that now the CIA has done this. There are different groups. It could be the [work of another] intelligence service; it could be the CIA; it could be the terrorists. Anyway, there are people who employ these types of methods."
Asked about his government's imposition of restrictions on reporting by international journalists, Ghadiri blamed the reporters themselves.
"Some of the reporters and mass media do not reflect the truth," he said.
For example, he said, international news organizations have lavished coverage on demonstrations by supporters of Mir Hossein Moussavi, whom the government has said lost to the incumbent President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad by a landslide.
But those same news organizations have not shown "many, many
demonstrations in favor of the winner," he said.
Further, he said, members of the international news media have failed to report on people setting banks and buses afire or attacking other
people. "The only things they show are the reactions of the police," he said.
Because of restrictions on reporting in Iran, CNN has been unable to confirm many of the reports and claims relating to protests. Ghadiri said it is only fair that security forces protect the lives and property of the Iranian people.
"If in America supporters of Mr. McCain had gotten out on the street and tried to burn the banks during the last election, do you think
the police would just sit idly by and be a spectator?" he asked, referring to the GOP presidential candidate who lost the presidential vote in November to Barack Obama.
Ghadiri called on backers of Moussavi to "accept the majority's victory."
Ahmadinejad's overwhelming victory was no surprise, Ghadiri said, noting that a poll published in the United States three weeks before the June 12 elections showed Ahmadinejad with a commanding lead. "Why don't you show that?" he asked.
Ghadiri also addressed questions about the rapid reporting of the election results, which the opposition has cited as evidence that the
ballots were not properly counted.
"It wasn't said that only four people counted the 40 million votes," he said. "There were tens of thousands of people in Iran who counted these votes. They declared that this is very simple."
Electoral watchdog says disputed vote Iran's `cleanest'
26 June 2009
TEHRAN - Iran's electoral watchdog insisted on Friday the disputed presidential vote was the cleanest ever, as G8 leading powers urged Tehran to halt post-election violence but without questioning the result.
"After 10 days of examination, we did not see any major irregularities," Guardians Council spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai told the state IRNA news agency, rejecting opposition allegations that have brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets.
"We have had no fraud in any presidential election and this one was
the cleanest election we have had. I can say with certainty that there was no fraud in this election."
Two weeks after the vote, protests in Tehran over hardliner Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's re-election have receded after the authorities responded to the worst crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution with a fierce crackdown that has intensified despite a chorus of international criticism.
State-run English-language Press TV said on Thursday that 20 people
have been killed in the protests, including eight members of Iran's Basij militia. Other state media have reported that 17 civilians have been killed.
The Group of Eight leading powers at a meeting in Italy called on
Iran to immediately put a halt to the post-election violence but refrained from calling into question the poll result.
Despite calls from Italy and France for a firm condemnation, the G8
foreign ministers backed off from harsh criticism and instead said the crisis should be settled "soon" through peaceful means.
"We want violence to stop immediately," Italian Foreign Minister
Franco Frattini told a news conference after releasing a carefully-worded declaration from the world powers.
G8 member Russia had warned against isolating Iran with a toughly-worded condemnation, arguing that it could trigger a backlash from Tehran that would jeopardise cooperation with the Islamic republic over its nuclear programme.
"We are concerned about the aftermath of the Iranian presidential
election," the foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States said in their statement.
"We fully respect the sovereignty of Iran. At the same time we
deplore post-election violence which led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians and urge Iran to respect fundamental human rights."
But in a nationally broadcast sermon at the main weekly Muslim
prayers in Tehran, hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami called on the government to impose even tighter controls on the foreign media.
"How can they be allowed to wander round the country with their
satellite phones giving information that provokes people to take to the streets," he asked.
Khatami suggested that any demonstrator who resorted to violence
during the protests should face the death penalty. "Anyone who takes up arms against the people is a mohareb and Islam has prescribed the toughest punishment for such offenders," he said.
US senators bluntly charged on Thursday that the June 12 election was
rigged and vowed to help the opposition defeat curbs on news and the social networking Internet sites it has used to organise demonstrations.
But since an address to the nation last week by supreme leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he warned that the defeated candidates would be held responsible for any "blood, violence and chaos" on the streets of Tehran, the protests have nearly stopped.
On Wednesday, an attempt by a few hundred demonstrators to gather
near parliament was quashed by police and militiamen, witnesses told AFP.
Despite the restrictions on the foreign media, images of police
brutality have still spread worldwide via amateur video over the Internet.
One clip in particular of the fatal shooting of young woman
demonstrator Neda Agah-Soltan has come to symbolise the regime's iron-fisted response to the protests. Arash Hejazi, a doctor who tried to save her, told the BBC the shooter was identified by the crowd as a Basij militiaman.
Although the street protests have died down, Iran's rulers are still
facing a major crisis, with cracks emerging within the regime itself.
On Friday defeated conservative candidate Mohsen Rezai charged that
the events of the past fortnight had damaged the authority of the Islamic regime.
"More important than the elections, people's lives and property and
the credibility of the Islamic republic have been damaged in recent weeks and we must act to stop that," said Rezai, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards
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