26 Jun 2009

G8 deplores Iran post-election violence

10:41 pm on 26 June 2009

Group of Eight powers deplored post-election violence in Iran on Friday and called on Tehran to resolve the crisis over the disputed poll soon through democratic dialogue.

G8 foreign ministers also called on the Iranian government to "guarantee that the will of the Iranian people is reflected in the electoral process", according to a final draft statement seen by Reuters as the ministers ended their meeting in the northern Italian port city of Trieste.

"We deplore post-electoral violence which led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians and urge Iran to respect fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression," it said. "The crisis should be settled soon through democratic dialogue and peaceful means."

"We are very concerned by these events of recent weeks," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told a news conference.

"We have underlined the importance that the violence ends immediately and we've expressed our solidarity with the victims of this violence," he said.

The G8 statement is a compromise between countries wanting to send a tough message to Tehran over its handling of post-election protests and several countries including Russia anxious not to slam the door on possible talks with Iran over its nuclear programme.

About 20 people have been killed in protests after Iran's presidential election on 12 June, the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Official results handed hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a landslide victory. Defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi said the vote was rigged.

Iranian officials have accused G8 members, the United States and Britain, of inciting the street protests, charges that they deny. The G8 also includes France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia.

The G8 said it remained committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the quarrel over Iran's nuclear programme. It said it was deeply concerned over proliferation risks posed by the nuclear programme and urged Iran to cooperate fully with the United Nation's nuclear watchdog.

Tehran says it wants nuclear power to generate electricity. Western nations accuse it of seeking atomic weapons.