Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Sunday, 21 June 2009 12:46 UK

Miliband denies Iran 'meddling'

David Miliband
Mr Miliband said the violence would "damage Iran's standing"

Iran's claims that protests over its disputed elections were orchestrated by overseas powers have been rejected by Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki had accused the UK of a plot to sabotage the presidential vote.

But Mr Miliband said that the allegation was "without foundation".

In a statement, he added: "I reject categorically the idea that the protesters in Iran are manipulated or motivated by foreign countries."

'Level of concern'

Mr Mottaki has claimed that a number of Britons, including secret service personnel, had entered Iran prior to voting.

On Friday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei singled out the UK as the "most evil" of Western governments.

But Mr Miliband said that the blame being "heaped" on foreigners was "no excuse" for the treatment of demonstrators inside Iran.

The UK is categorical that it is for the Iranian people to choose their government
David Miliband
Foreign Secretary

He added that reports of the deaths of 10 further protesters in Tehran on Saturday would "raise the level of concern" around the world.

"The UK is categorical that it is for the Iranian people to choose their government, and for the Iranian authorities to ensure the fairness of the result and the protection of their own people," Mr Miliband said.

"I therefore deplore the continuing violence against those seeking to exercise their right of expression.

"This can only damage Iran's standing in the eyes of the world."

The protests were sparked by disputed presidential elections, but have since escalated into a political crisis for the establishment.

A state TV report said 10 people had been killed in clashes between police and "terrorist groups" in Tehran, and added "rioters" had set two gas stations on fire and attacked a military post.

The BBC and other foreign media are subject to heavy restrictions which have prevented reporters from leaving their offices to confirm these reports.

Critics of the presidential poll - which gave President Ahmadinejad a resounding 63% of votes, compared with 34% for Mr Mousavi, his nearest rival - say there is evidence of widespread vote-rigging.



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