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Russia says Iran's election is its own business, welcomes president

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Russia, which is hosting a regional summit on Tuesday attended by Iran's leader, believes that the country's recent election is no business of other states, a senior diplomat said.

YEKATERINBURG, June 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia, which is hosting a regional summit on Tuesday attended by Iran's leader, believes that the country's recent election is no business of other states, a senior diplomat said.

Tehran and other Iranian cities have been swept by mass protests since Saturday over alleged vote fraud in the landslide reelection of the hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The issue of elections in Iran is an internal affair of the Iranian people," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters.

Ahmadinejad arrived in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg on Tuesday to participate in the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), bringing together Russia, China and the four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

"We consider this visit to be a reflection of partnership, neighborly, and traditionally friendly relations, which have characterized the level of ties between Moscow and Tehran for a long time," Rybakov said.

"We welcome the holding of elections in Iran, and we welcome the newly re-elected president of Iran on Russian soil... it is highly significant that the first foreign visit after Ahmadinejad's re-election is to Russia."

Several Western countries including the U.S., France and Germany, have voiced alarm over violence following Friday's election, with hundreds of thousands of people holding street rallies in defiance against a government ban.

Ahmadinejad's reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi has contested the results of the election, and his accusations of vote rigging are to be examined by the Guardian Council, the country's top clerical body with wide responsibility for electoral issues.

According to official election results, Ahmadinejad won Friday's election with nearly 63% of the vote against former prime minister Mousavi's 34%. Independent election observers were banned from polling stations.

Ahmadinejad was due to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the SCO summit on Monday to discuss bilateral ties and Iran's controversial nuclear program. However, the Iranian president delayed his trip until Tuesday

Russia has consistently blocked international sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program, which many countries believe is a cover for a weapons program. Russia is currently completing the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant and has supplied nuclear fuel for it.

 

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