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Obama:  Demonstrators Reflect Growing Desire for Change in Iran


U.S. President Barack Obama is continuing to call for an end to post-election violence in Iran. He said he does not want to intervene in the election dispute. The president said he senses a desire for change among the Iranian public.

The president is responding cautiously to events in Iran.

He made clear the United States does not have a say in the choice of Iran's leaders, emphasizing that decision lies with the Iranian people.

"It's not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranians relations, to be seen as meddling - the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections," he said.

But he said that does not mean he should remain silent about the violence that has erupted as protesters have taken to the streets to denounce the election results as fraud.

"When I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, wherever that takes place, it is of concern to me and it's of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should react with their people," he said.

The president spoke in the White House Rose Garden Tuesday at the end of a press conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Once again, as he did during a session with reporters Monday, the president did not refer to any of the parties to the election dispute by name. He mentioned neither President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is declaring victory, nor reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has alleged election fraud.

Mr. Obama did not weigh in on the charges of vote-rigging. But he did say the demonstrators reflect a growing desire for change in Iran.

"I do believe that something has happened in Iran where there is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures toward the international community that have taken place in the past, and that there are people who want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy," said Mr. Obama.

The president said how that plays out over the coming days and weeks is something ultimately for the Iranian people to decide. But he said he stands strongly with those who believe the voice of the people should be heard and not suppressed.
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