Don't interfere, Ahmadinejad tells Obama

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused President Barack Obama of behaving like his predecessor on Iran and called on him to apologise for what he called US interference following the Iranian elections.



Obama has ramped up his previously muted criticism, saying he was "appalled and outraged" by a crackdown on protests which followed Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election.

"Mr Obama made a mistake to say those things ... our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously (former US President George W.) Bush used to say," the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

About 20 people have been killed in the demonstrations, but police and militia have flooded Tehran's streets since Saturday, quelling the majority of protests after the most widespread anti-government unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The turmoil has dimmed prospects for Obama's outreach to Iran over its nuclear programme, with Tehran blaming Britain and the United States for fomenting violence.

"I hope you avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it," Ahmadinejad said.

Iran's reformist opposition leaders have vowed to press on with legal challenges to an election they say was rigged.

The wife of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, who says he won the poll, said it was a "duty to continue legal protests to preserve Iranian rights".

Mousavi supporters said they would release thousands of balloons on Friday imprinted with the message "Neda you will always remain in our hearts" - a reference to the young woman killed last week who has become an icon of the protests.

Riot police swiftly dispersed a group of about 200 demonstrators with teargas on Wednesday, but the protest was a far cry from marches last week that attracted tens of thousands.

Protest cries of Allahu Akbar were heard from Tehran rooftops again overnight, although they were much more short-lived than on previous evenings in the capital.

The unrest has exposed unprecedented rifts within Iran's clerical establishment, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who normally stays above the political fray, siding strongly with Ahmadinejad.

"My personal judgment is that this is a country deeply split and emotionalised," a Western diplomat in the region said. The protests had shown how dissatisfied some parts of society were with the way Iran was run - to the chagrin of its leadership.

"I think they are deeply shocked," the diplomat said. The authorities had managed to impose outward stability, but had paid a heavy moral price, he added.

Khamenei has upheld the result of the June 12 presidential poll and has warned opposition leaders they would be responsible for any bloodshed.

Iran's top legislative body, the Guardian Council, has also ruled out a call from Mousavi to annul the election.

A spokesman for the council, which must approve the poll, said it had looked into all complaints but found no major fraud or irregularities, state Press TV reported on Thursday.

The spokesman said the vote was "among the healthiest elections ever held in the country" since the revolution.

The crackdown on the protests has stalled US efforts to reach out to Tehran both over its nuclear programme and to seek its help in stabilising Afghanistan.

The United States withdrew invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend US Independence Day celebrations on July 4.

It was the first time since Washington cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1980 that Iranian diplomats had been invited to the embassy parties, but the move to withdraw the invites was largely symbolic as no Iranians had even responded.

"The president's policy of engagement is obviously delayed, but we are going to have to deal with the government of Iran," Senator John Kerry, chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Reuters.

The best US option for pressuring Iran, the world's fifth biggest oil producer, was to drive down crude prices by reducing America's dependence on imported energy, Kerry said.

Mohammad Marandi, who is the head of North American Studies at Tehran University, said mistrust of the United States and Britain was rife, partly due to the "very negative" role of US- and British-funded Persian-language television stations.

"They are working 24 hours a day spreading rumours and trying to turn people against each other," he told Reuters.

"In the short term relations will definitely get worse, but in the long term the US really has to re-think its policy and to recognise that regime change is not possible in Iran."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot