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US Expresses Disappointment with Iran Elections - 2004-02-20

The United States expressed disappointment Friday that many Iranian reformist politicians were barred from running in Friday's parliamentary elections, which the State Department said did not meet international standards for fairness.

U.S. officials had repeatedly expressed concern about the banning of Iranian reform candidates by the country's conservative Guardian Council. Citing those disqualifications, and other moves against reform parties, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said there was no need to await the election results to say that choices of the Iranian people to choose their own government had been limited.

"These actions do not represent free and fair elections and are not consistent with international norms," he said.

Mr. Ereli said the way to realize the hopes and dreams of the Iranian people is through the election of a government that represents them, and that it is disappointing when those aspirations are frustrated. He said he was not concerned that the criticism would play into the hands of Iran's hard-liners, saying the United States is no more critical of the elections than the Iranians themselves.