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Obama, Merkel Condemn Iran Violence

By Kent Klein
White House
26 June 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel are both condemning Iran's violent crackdown on anti-government protesters. The two leaders met with reporters after their meetings on Friday.

President Obama says the United States and Germany share one voice in condemning what he called the "ruthlessness" of Iran's behavior in crushing dissent. And he praised the demonstrators in Tehran for their courage.

"Their bravery in the face of brutality is a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice," said the U.S. president. "The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. In spite of the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it."

Chancellor Merkel said Iran "cannot count on the world turning a blind eye," and said the international community must prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"The rights of human beings, of individuals, of citizens are indivisible the world over, and also apply, therefore, to the Iranian people," she said. "We have to work to it that the Iranian nuclear program is stopped, that Iran does not get possession of a nuclear weapon."

The president rejected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for him to apologize for criticizing Iran's handling of the situation.

"I do not take Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements seriously, about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran," said Mr. Obama.

The president said he did not expect an apology from Mr. Ahmadinejad, who compared him Thursday to former President George W. Bush. Instead, Mr. Obama suggested the Iranian leader direct any apologies to "the families of those beaten or shot or detained."

The president said the violence in Iran has affected the chances of dialogue with Iran about its nuclear development. He said "the clock is ticking."

This was Mr. Obama's third meeting with Ms. Merkel since he took office in January.

He said the German leader has not committed to taking detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But Ms. Merkel said her country will not shirk its responsibilities.

Mr. Obama admitted that European nations have moved faster than the U.S. on addressing global warming, and that he would like to see Washington play a greater leadership role. Chancellor Merkel said she is gratified that the president is committed to the issue.



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