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US rejects Iran’s ‘interfering’ claims

“As the president has said, we are not interfering with the debate that Iranians are having about their election and its aftermath,” State Department spokesman P.

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J. Crowley said.

“You know, this is a debate about Iranians and about Iran’s future,” he said.

“It’s up to the government of Iran to resolve these questions and these concerns that the Iranian people have and that the world has in a credible way, in a transparent way, and in a peaceful way.”

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama would continue to express his concerns about the election and the subsequent political violence.

Gibbs noted that the president had discussed universal principles such as the right to peacefully demonstrate and stressed they should be observed in Iran as the political tumult escalates.

“The president will continue to express those concerns and ensure that we are not meddling,” said Gibbs.

Earlier, Iran protested to the Swiss envoy in Tehran, who represents US interests, over “interfering remarks” by US officials on last week’s presidential election, state television reported.

Obama said on Tuesday that he had concerns about the conduct of last week’s election and subsequent violence, but said that US “meddling” in Iranian affairs could be counterproductive.

Washington would still pursue “tough diplomacy” towards Iran over its nuclear drive, but has been walking a fine political line designed to avoid becoming a “political football” in Iran, Obama said.

The White House also downplayed reports that the State Department had intervened to stop the microblogging service Twitter, which has been carrying many eyewitness reports of protests in Iran, from scheduling a shutdown for maintenance that would have coincided with daytime hours in Tehran.

Gibbs described the State Department’s role as having been undertaken by “an employee in some discussions with Twitter about the importance of social networking and maintenance,” in a briefing with reporters Wednesday.

“So I think you’re going to have a hard time making the case that somehow this was done in some way as a bias.”

Twitter delayed Monday’s scheduled tuneup and performed it Tuesday instead but said the decision was made with its network provider, not the State Department.

On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden too voiced doubts about Iran’s controversial election.

“There is an awful lot of questions about how this election was run,” Biden said in an interview with NBC television. “We are waiting to see. We don’t have enough facts to make a firm judgment.”

Washington has had no diplomatic ties with Tehran for three decades and its interests are represented by the Swiss embassy.

Moderate former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi has demanded a re-run of last Friday’s Iranian presidential election after official results gave outright victory in the first round to hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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