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IRAN: Obama stays the course on election protests

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The tone may have been a little sharper, but President Obama did not stray today from his administration’s measured response to the massive protests that have gripped Iran since a disputed presidential election last week.

Asked by reporters about a speech in which Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the protests must end or demonstrators will face the consequences, Obama said, “The world is watching.”

“Already we’ve seen violence out there,” he said in response to journalists’ questions. “I’ve said this throughout the week, I want to repeat it, that we stand with those who would look to peaceful resolution of conflict and we believe that the voices of people have to be heard.”

In today’s address, Khamenei repeated accusations that the U.S. and other Western nations are fomenting the unrest.

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“That’s an old distraction that I think has been trotted out periodically. And that’s just not going to fly,” Obama said. “What you’re seeing in Iran are hundreds of thousands of people who believe their voices were not heard and who are peacefully protesting and seeking justice.”

Obama has come under pressure from U.S. lawmakers and members of the Iranian American community to take a more forceful stand with Iran.

“The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States,” Obama said. “That’s what they do. That’s what we’re already seeing. We shouldn’t be playing into that.”

-- Alexandra Zavis


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