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Archive for Monday, July 4, 2005

Iran advises Europe to steer clear of mudslinging aimed at president-elect

July 4, 2005

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— Iran accused the U.S. and Israel on Sunday of a smear campaign against its president-elect and warned Europe, which is in tricky nuclear negotiations with Tehran, not to join in the mudslinging.

The ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won a landslide presidential election victory, has been accused of taking American hostages in 1979 when radical students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Iranian exiles and an Austrian politician are alleging he was involved in the 1989 slaying of a Kurdish leader and two associates in Vienna.

Iranian officials have denied both allegations.

"The charges are so evidently false that they don't deserve an answer. It's clear that it's mere lies," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Sunday at a news conference in Tehran.

"Europeans should show their political maturity and not intertwine their interests with those of the Americans. They are advised to seriously avoid interference in this issue," Asefi warned. "We advise the Europeans not to fall into the trap of the Zionist media."

The Iranian warning came as France, Germany and Britain lead European Union efforts to persuade Tehran to permanently halt nuclear enrichment activities, which the United States says are part of Iran's plan to develop a nuclear arsenal.

Iran rejects the U.S. claims and insists it is pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, such as generating power. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used for energy while highly enriched uranium can be used in bombs.

President Bush has said the claims swirling around Ahmadinejad are not his primary concern.

Asefi said the wave of allegations against Ahmadinejad was disappointment over the June 24 presidential runoff vote. Ahmadinejad defeated former President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was perceived as more moderate.

In 1979, Ahmadinejad was a member of the Office of Strengthening Unity, the student organization that planned the Tehran Embassy takeover. Six former hostages who saw the president-elect in a 1979 photo or on television said they believe Ahmadinejad was among the captors who held them for 444 days, and one said he was interrogated by the new president.

Ahmadinejad has denied he was one of the hostage takers.

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