The Obama administration says it welcomes U.S. lawmakers' almost-unanimous vote to condemn the violence against anti-government demonstrators in Iran. White House officials are resisting calls to speak out more forcefully on the matter.
Both houses of Congress passed a resolution Friday condemning the Iranian government's violent response to protests after the disputed presidential election.
The resolution was introduced by Republicans who are frustrated that U.S. President Barack Obama has not more directly criticized the crackdown and Tehran's suppression of the Internet and mobile phones.
But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs Friday told reporters the resolution reflects the views Mr. Obama has consistently made clear. "Obviously, we welcome the resolution. We believe, despite the question, that it echoes the words of President Obama throughout the week," he said.
While the Obama administration has spoken cautiously about the situation in Iran, Gibbs said the president has left no doubt that he supports the demonstrators' rights. "Those who wish to have their voices heard should be able to do that, to do that without fear of violence, that that is an important universal principle that should be upheld, and I think he (President Obama) strongly supports that," he said.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Friday warned protesters against holding more rallies. Khamenei said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a fair vote, and he criticized what he called interference by foreigners questioning the election outcome.
Gibbs said the Obama administration does not want to allow Iran's political leaders to accuse the U.S. of meddling in Iranian affairs. "We are not going to be used as political foils and political footballs in a debate that is happening by Iranians in Iran. There are many people in the (Iranian) leadership that would love us to get involved," he said.
The White House press secretary said many Iranians are beginning to question the negative view of America fostered by the government in Tehran. "I think there are those in Iran that see the United States of America not as it has been described to them, not as those (in the Iranian government) have wanted their people to believe. I think that is a positive development for this country and for the entire world," he said.
Earlier, the European Union issued a joint statement urging Tehran to recognize all citizens' rights to assemble and express themselves peacefully.