West demands Iran recount; Ahmadinejad: Don't meddle
Obama concerned about 'unjust actions' in Iran; Iran summons EU diplomats to protest 'interference.'
Iran must allow peaceful protests against its disputed presidential election and ensure a fair result, Western governments said on Sunday, rejecting charges they were interfering in Iranian affairs.
U.S. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, expressed concern about violence and "unjust actions" against Iranian demonstrators on Sunday in a meeting with advisers who updated him on fast-moving events in the Islamic Republic.
"At approximately noon today, the President met for more than 30 minutes in the Oval Office with foreign policy advisors to get an update on the current situation and developments in Iran," a White House aide said in an email.
The European Union said Sunday that Iran has summoned diplomats from EU member countries to protest what it says is interference in its internal affairs.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, says Iran's action was a misunderstanding, because the 27-nation EU's goal is not to interfere in Iran's affairs.
Foreign countries have played no part in supporting the violent street protests that erupted in Iran after its June 12 election, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.
He dismissed comments from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling on the United States and Britain to stop interfering in the Islamic Republic's internal affairs.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first leader of a major Western power to publicly call for a recount, urging Iran also to refrain from using violence against demonstrators, free detained opposition members and allow free media reporting of the protests.
"Germany is on the side of the Iranian people, who want to exercise their rights of freedom of expression and free assembly," she said in a statement.
"One could eliminate doubt, very well I believe, by simply repeating the count transparently and if needed also with international observers. And then trust could grow," she later told reporters.
Many Western countries and rights groups have criticized the election, which was won by Ahmadinejad according to official figures, and its aftermath. His main opponent Mirhossein Mousavi says the vote was rigged. The government denies the charge.
"Definitely by hasty remarks you will not be placed in the circle of friendship with the Iranian nation. Therefore I advise you to correct your interfering stances," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying in a meeting with clerics and scholars.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner nontheless urged the international community to pursue dialogue with Iran's leaders, a French newspaper reported Sunday,.
Kouchner was quoted by Journal du Dimanche as saying that while Iran's protesters are calling for international support, "this doesn't mean we will settle the problem in place of the Iranians."
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has been among the most vocal international critics of the Iranian leadership's handling of the weeklong protests, calling it "brutal and totally disproportionate."
French demonstrators have rallied in Paris in solidarity with the Iranian protesters. Another demonstration was planned Sunday, including prominent political and cultural figures demanding the release of those arrested in Iran and freedom for journalists covering the events.
Also on Sunday, Italy said it had instructed its embassy in Iran to provide humanitarian aid to protesters wounded in days of violent clashes over disputed elections.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he planned to discuss a European Union-wide proposal to coordinate such assistance for wounded demonstrators during a meeting Wednesday in Stockholm, Sweden, which takes over the EU presidency next week.
Pending a coordinated response, Italy has already instructed its embassy to help out where there is a request or need for help from injured demonstrators, the ministry said in a statement.
Separately Sunday, Italy urged Iran to take urgent but peaceful measures to end the violence and hold an open meeting with the country's opposition.
Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, directed his remarks primarily Sunday at U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, ISNA said.
Obama, who has been trying to mend ties with Iran since taking office in January, has urged Tehran to "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people".
The head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, however, implored the U.S. to allow Iran to determine its own election results. "U.S. fingerprints shouldn't taint the vote tallies," she said.
California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein also said that intelligence gathering in Iran right now was "difficult and spotty."
Britain's Foreign Secretary Miliband said in a statement, "I reject categorically the idea that the protesters in Iran are manipulated or motivated by foreign countries."
Iran expels BBC correspondent in Tehran
Meanwhile, Iran has also decided to expel the BBC's correspondent in Tehran and he has been given 24 hours to leave, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Sunday.
"Jon Leyne will have to leave Iran within the course of the next 24 hours under the charges of dispatching fabricated news and reports, ignoring neutrality in news, supporting rioters and trampling the Iranian nation's rights," Fars said, without giving a source.
The BBC in London confirmed that Iran asked its Teheran Correspondent to leave.
"With regret, Jon Leyne, the BBC's permananent correspondent in Tehran, has been asked to leave by the Iranian authorities," the British broadcaster said in a brief statement. "The BBC office remains open."
Ahmadinejad said Western countries wanted to belittle Iran's position after the election but that they had made a mistake.
"Definitely, recent events will add to the Islamic Republic of Iran's greatness and might," Ahmadinejad said.
In an address to foreign diplomats in Tehran broadcast live on state television, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki sharply criticized Britain's "interfering remarks" about the election and also hit out at Germany and France.
"We are really sorry to see that the goverment of Britain did not learn ... that such measures will bring more hatred from nations towards the policies of that country," Mottaki said.
Press TV, which translated his comments, said he spoke of Britain's "sinister designs" and also denounced France's "irresponsible remarks".
The broadcast showed envoys including Australia's and Finland's ambassadors, but it was not immediately clear whether their British counterpart was also in the audience.
Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani separately called for ties with Britain, France and Germany to be reconsidered in view of their "shameful" statements on the vote, state radio said.
Mottaki said Iran had noticed "some newcomers" coming to the country from Britain in the weeks leading up to the election.
"They were elements affiliated to the intelligence apparatus of Britain," he said. "They wanted to come here to see, to have certain effects."
On Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also attacked what he called interference by foreign powers who had questioned the election result, saying Iran's enemies were trying to undermine the legitimacy of its Islamic establishment.
The United States and Western allies suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear bombs. Iran rejects the charge.