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UK calls for Iran envoy over leader’s comments

West condemns Iran’s handling of post-election protests

Britain summoned Iran's ambassador Friday as Western powers continued to condemn Tehran leadership over the handling of election results following a major speech by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's ambassador to London was summoned to the Foreign Office, a British spokesman said, in a new sign of the diplomatic strains caused by the disputed election which Iranian authorities say returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a second term as president.

The Foreign Office spokesman did not say why the ambassador, Rasoul Movahedian, was summoned, but the action came after Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei singled out Britain for criticism in a speech.

"Today, top diplomats of several Western countries who talked to us so far within diplomatic formalities are showing their real face and most of all, the British government," Khamenei said in a speech in Tehran.


On Tuesday the Iranian government summoned the British and Czech ambassadors to protest against the British and EU reactions to deadly post-election unrest in Tehran.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said his government would carry on criticizing Iran and that "the whole world is watching" the events in Tehran.

Today, top diplomats of several Western countries who talked to us so far within diplomatic formalities are showing their real face and most of all, the British government

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

EU reaction

A European Union summit called on Iran not to use violence against peaceful demonstrators. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the number of arrests in a clampdown on the protests.

Brown and other EU leaders discussed the clampdown the summit in Brussels, which called on the Iranian government to allow peaceful protests.


The leaders "urged the Iranian authorities to ensure that all Iranians are granted the right to assemble and to express themselves peacefully," said a summit statement.

"The authorities should refrain from the use of force against peaceful demonstrations," it added.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Iran not to "go beyond the point of no return."

Sarkozy said Europe should not give the impression that it is interfering in Iran's domestic affairs. "I am always in favor of dialogue with Iran, but when we have to condemn, we condemn."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile said Khamenei’s speech “was disappointing.”

I am always in favor of dialogue with Iran, but when we have to condemn, we condemn

French President Nicolas Sarkozy

US stance

United States President Barack Obama has been criticized by opposition Republicans of not giving strong enough support to the Tehran demonstrators.

Obama has stressed that universal rights to protest peacefully should be respected in Iran, but has refused to pick sides in the showdown between Ahmadinejad and his challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi.

He has warned that U.S. "meddling" in Iran's internal politics would be counterproductive, and vowed to push forward his engagement policy with Iran.

It is a stance that has left some lawmakers fuming. Senator John McCain, Obama's Republican rival in the U.S. election, described Obama's response as "tepid," and blasted him for abandoning "fundamental" U.S. principles.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay expressed concern over the use of "excessive force" to quell the Tehran protests in which at least seven people have been killed.

Pillay warned in a statement that illegal acts by militia and security forces "could provoke a serious deterioration in the security situation."

Pillay is "concerned about reports of an increasing number of arrests, which may not be in conformity with the law, and the possible illegal use of excessive force and acts of violence by some militia members," her office said.

A spokesman for the UN rights chief, Rupert Colville, said indirect information suggested that hundreds of people have been arrested.