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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 June, 2005, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Iran calls for Bush poll apology
Kamal Kharrazi
Kamal Kharrazi said George Bush's comments backfired
Iran has called on US President George W Bush to apologise for criticising Friday's presidential election.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said the high turnout discredited Mr Bush's comments the poll was undemocratic.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is in the region, also said the poll had failed to be a legitimate exercise in democracy.

In a surprise result, the hardline mayor of Tehran is to face a veteran former president in a run-off.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will fight pragmatist Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in a second round on Friday.

Mr Rafsanjani had been expected to do well, but few predicted Mr Ahmadinejad would beat his rival, correspondents say.

Bush 'disgraced'

On Saturday, President Bush denounced the election as a sham.

He said the polls ignored "basic democratic standards" and was a further example of what he called the regime's "oppressive record".

Mr Kharrazi said Americans should "wake up from their sleep and correct their position towards Iran and apologise".

Supporters of Mr Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - 21%
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - 19.5%
Mehdi Karroubi - 17.3%
Source: Iranian interior ministry

But he said Mr Bush's remarks motivated people to vote.

"Bush's statement helped those people who did not want to vote to come forward to vote," he said, adding the US would be "disgraced by the big participation".

Officials said about 62% of the electorate cast their ballot.

After Mr Kharrazi's comments, the US secretary of state said the Iranian election "took place with an unelected few having decided who could run, with thousands of people having been disqualified, with women having been disqualified altogether".

"I find it hard to see how this election could certainly contribute to the sense of legitimacy of the Iranian government," Ms Rice told ABC television.

The US broke off relations with Iran following the 1980 Iranian revolution and Washington has branded Tehran part of what it called an "axis of evil".

Mr Rafsanjani has called for a "new chapter" in US-Iranian relations, but Mr Ahmadinejad has said restoring ties with the US will not solve Iran's problems

Meanwhile, a second defeated contender has claimed the poll was flawed by voting irregularities.

Mostafa Moin's spokeswoman, Elaheh Koulai, accused Islamist militias of interference, AFP news agency reported.

On Saturday, former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi claimed the poll was subjected to "bizarre interference" and that money had changed hands to influence the outcome.

See Iranians turning out to vote in the first round

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