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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 June, 2005, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
US concern over Iran poll result

By Daniela Relph
BBC News, Washington

From the United States, a distinctly lukewarm response to the Iranian president-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad's victory does not bode well for US-Iranian relations

The US government voiced concern at the result of the Iranian election, questioning the fairness of the vote and supporting those who it said stood for greater freedom in Iran.

The strongest criticism came from the state department.

"We remain sceptical that the Iranian regime is interested in addressing either the legitimate desires of its own people or the concerns of the broader international community," said a spokeswoman.

She described Iran as being out of step with the trend toward freedom and liberty in the region.

Knowing the result effectively blocks any moves towards a new working relationship between Tehran and Washington, the White House has questioned the legitimacy of the entire election.

Concerns over vote

Maria Tamburri, the president's spokeswoman, said the administration continued to stand with those who call for greater freedom for the Iranian people.

The United States was free to cut its ties with Iran but the Iranian government is free to decide about restarting its relationship with the United States as well
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

She said the White House had concerns about the voting process there, particularly over allegations of election fraud and interference.

It was a view supported by President Bush even before the vote.

He said the elections in Iran appeared to ignore the basic requirements of democracy.

Earlier this month, the President also told reporters that Iran was ruled by men who suppressed liberty at home and spread terror across the world.

The New York Times said the administration was now "bracing for a long, hot summer of confrontation with Iran, first over its nuclear programs, then over terrorism, and perhaps over the fuelling of the insurgency in Iraq."

"Mr Ahmadinejad's win may well bolster the scepticism within the administration that the Europeans can persuade Iran to trade away its ability to produce its own nuclear fuel," the paper added.

The Washington Post was equally downbeat about the prospects for US-Iranian relations.

"Ahmadinejad's election stands to complicate Iran's gradual engagement with the West," it said.

"The apparent victory completes the domination of Iran's elective offices by the religious fundamentalists who have long held ultimate authority in the theocracy."

Diplomatic freeze

In a campaign where his main opponent advocated better ties with the US, Ahmadinejad had said relations with Washington were not a cure-all for Iran.

The president-elect said he was not in any hurry to re-establish relations with the United States, which cut diplomatic ties with Iran after its embassy was besieged for 444 days and 52 employees held hostage in 1979.

"The United States was free to cut its ties with Iran but the Iranian government is free to decide about restarting its relationship with the United States as well," Ahmadinejad said on his web site.

"This decision will be made when Iran has the guarantee that its interests will be secure in any new relationship."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Footage of the new president of Iran



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