Canadian Press: France's top diplomat on Sunday condemned the "brutal repression" of dissent by Iranian authorities and rejected accusations of foreign interference in Iran's worst political unrest in 30 years.
The Canadian Press
By Angela Charlton
PARIS — France's top diplomat on Sunday condemned the "brutal repression" of dissent by Iranian authorities and rejected accusations of foreign interference in Iran's worst political unrest in 30 years.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Iranian officials had summoned the diplomatic corps in Tehran on Sunday and made "unacceptable statements about several foreign leaders."
"It is not with such insults that the Iranian government will respond to the aspirations of its people," he said.
While the U.S. and some other governments have been cautious in their response to Iran's postelection protests, France has been critical of Iran's leadership and supportive of the protesters.
"I condemn this brutal repression," Kouchner said in a statement, referring to deadly clashes Saturday in Tehran between police and protesters.
Demonstrators in Paris, meanwhile, rallied Sunday against the Iranian government, calling for a ballot recount and chanting "Down with the dictatorship" in Farsi, French and English.
Iran's government has bristled at what it considers foreign meddling. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Sunday rebuked Britain, France and Germany for raising questions about alleged voting irregularities in hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. Mottaki accused France of taking "treacherous and unjust approaches."
Kouchner rejected the charge. "We do not want in any way to decide in the place of the Iranians their future," he said.
He urged the Iranian authorities to release those arrested during the protests and lift restrictions on journalists barred from reporting in the streets. He praised the "popular movement that is fighting with courage for transparency and justice."
Earlier Sunday, Kouchner had struck a more conciliatory tone in comments carried in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
"We should pursue the effort for dialogue that we have put in place alongside sanctions because of the nuclear danger," Kouchner was quoted as saying.
Repeated rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions have sought to punish Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The United States and its allies suspect Iran of seeking a nuclear arsenal, while Tehran says it is pursuing only atomic energy.
Paris has been the scene in recent days of several rallies in solidarity with the Iranian protesters.
Children waved green balloons and women blew green whistles at a demonstration Sunday near the Iranian Embassy. Police said 450 people were present.
"It is very crucial (to demonstrate) because this is the first time that the population is firmly standing against the system. It's not just matter of two candidates, rivalries between two candidates, it's now the people against the regime," said 80-year-old Iranian demonstrator Parviz Mina.