Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ahmadinejad Rejects Obama's Open Hand Gesture

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today rebuffed any notion of welcoming President Barack Obama's "open hand" gesture in remarks quoted in The New York Times and attributed to the Iranian Fars news agency.

Obama had sent a letter to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, before the election calling for an improvement in relations, The Washington Times reported on Wednesday.

The Fars news agency quoted Ahmadinejad today as saying in remarks addressed to Mr. Obama, “I hope you will avoid interfering in Iran’s affairs and express regret in a way that the Iranian people are informed of it.”

Apparently brushing aside Mr. Obama’s offers, made in the early days of his presidency, of a dialogue with Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “Mr. Obama made a mistake to say those things.”

“Our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously Bush used to say,” he said, according to Fars, quoted in western news agency reports.

Meanwhile, Iranian opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi told Reuters that despite the violence, he has no plans to give up the fight for an annulment of the election results:

I am pressured to abandon my demand for the vote annulment … a major rigging has happened … I am prepared to prove that those behind the rigging are responsible for the bloodshed … Continuation of legal and calm protests will guarantee achieving our goals.

Seventy Iranian academic leaders were arrested yesterday after they met with opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi, the defeated presidential candidate's website says today.

It is unclear where they are being held or for how long they will be detained.
According to state media, 17 people have died in the violence that has gripped the country, and opposition forces say hundreds have been held.

The Times reported:

The official Iranian news agency reported that intelligence and security agents in Tehran concluded that a Moussavi campaign office was used for “illegal gatherings, the promotion of unrest, and efforts to undermine the country’s security,” leading to speculation that Mr. Moussavi could be arrested. The news agency reported that “the plotters have been arrested.”

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