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Iran 'disqualifies' EU from talks

13 June
Britain has denied allegations of involvement in the Iranian riots

The EU is no longer qualified to take part in talks on Iran's nuclear programme, Iran's military chief says.

Maj-Gen Hassan Firouzabadi, Iran's chief of staff, accused the EU of "interference" in riots which followed June's disputed presidential elections.

EU states, meanwhile, are considering withdrawing their ambassadors from Iran in a growing diplomatic row.

Britain proposed the step after Iran detained nine of its embassy staff last week. Eight have since been released.

The BBC's European affairs correspondent Oana Lungescu says senior officials from EU capitals will discuss the request in Stockholm on Thursday.

But diplomats say that Germany and Italy - Iran's biggest trading partners in the EU - oppose it, arguing that channels of dialogue with Iran should be kept open.

'Nine offences'

In the wake of mass street protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, meanwhile, Iran's Basij militia has called for the defeated opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi to be prosecuted.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the militia - a volunteer force of Islamic government loyalists - had accused Mr Mousavi of nine offences, including propaganda against the state, and complicity in disrupting national security.

It is our historic responsibility to continue our complaint and make efforts not to give up the rights of the people
Mir Hossein Mousavi
Iranian presidential candidate

In a letter to the chief prosecutor, the militia said Mr Mousavi had been involved in the street protests, in which about 17 protesters and a number of militia members were killed.

The Iranian presidential elections, held on 12 June, returned President Ahmadinejad to power for a second term in office.

But the opposition disputed the result, saying the vote had been rigged.

Both Mr Mousavi, and another defeated opposition candidate Mehdi Karoubi, have issued statements on their websites describing any government led by President Ahmadinejad as "illegitimate".

Mr Mousavi wrote: "It is our historic responsibility to continue our complaint, and make efforts not to give up the rights of the people."

And he called for the release of the "children of the revolution" - a reference to the hundreds of reformist figures detained during the unrest.

'Hostility'

In his statement, reported by Fars, army chief of staff Gen Firouzabadi accused some EU members of supporting the riots, and demonstrating their hostility to the Iranian people.

The EU has yet to comment, but earlier urged Iran to avoid conflict with the international community.

Previously, Iran had aimed its allegations at Britain in particular and at the weekend detained the local employees of its embassy. Five were released on Monday, and a further three on Wednesday.

Iran says it is enriching uranium for power plants, but some Western countries suspect it plans to build nuclear weapons.

Three EU countries - Britain, France and Germany - have led negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme, along with the United States, Russia and China.

'Non-negotiable'

At their last talks, they offered Iran a package of incentives if it would stop its nuclear activities.

But Iran insists that its right to enrich uranium is non-negotiable.

In a separate development, officials in Tehran said President Ahmadinejad had cancelled his trip to an African Union summit in Libya.

Mr Ahmadinejad's office did not give any reason for the decision.



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