US calls on Iran to transparently resolve election dispute


Washington : The US urged Iran Wednesday to transparently resolve the dispute over its presidential election, which has sparked days of massive protests and international criticism.

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US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the protests are a sign that Iranians have grown impatient with the country’s diplomatic isolation and denied that Washington was interfering in either the election or protests.

“The Iranian people are frustrated that Iran is isolated … from the rest of the world,” Crowley said.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the outcome of the election. Incumbent hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handily defeated reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi. But Moussavi believes the result was fraudulent.

“It’s up to the government of Iran to resolve these questions and these concerns that the Iranian people have and that the world has in a credible way, in a transparent way, and in a peaceful way,” Crowley said.

Crowley confirmed reports that the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents US interests, was summoned by Iranian officials who alleged the United States was interfering in the process.

“We are not interfering with the debate that Iranians are having bout their election and its aftermath,” Crowley said. “You know, this is a debate about Iranians and about Iran’s future.”

The United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980. The State Department has acknowledged that it asked the social networking site Twitter to delay maintenance of its website that would have disabled access for Iranians to communicate about the election.

“It’s about Iran. It’s about the debate that’s going on in the country. And the government has to listen to the voices of the people,” Crowley said.

US President Barack Obama has expressed “deep concerns” about the situation in Iran but has held back any sharp criticism of the process. He has said he wants to avoid the perception that the United States is “meddling.”

He has also downplayed the differences between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi, saying that history shows either leader would have a hostile policy towards the United States.

Obama has welcomed the “robust” debate leading up to the election and has pledged to engage in direct dialogue with Tehran in an attempt to begin repairing decades of frosty relations, including the contentious issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Ahmadinejad and Moussavi both support Iran’s nuclear programme, but Moussavi is seen as more open to discussing the dispute with the West.