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EU Ministers Call Iran's Elections a Step Backward - 2004-02-23


European Union foreign ministers have voiced dissatisfaction with Iran's parliamentary elections, calling Friday's polling flawed and a step backward for democracy in that country.

The EU ministers, in a statement released in Brussels, expressed "deep regret" and disappointment over the exclusion of opposition candidates from the ballot - a development they said made a genuinely democratic voters' choice impossible.

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the flawed elections will have an adverse impact on trade talks between Tehran and the European Union. Mr. Straw spoke in Brussels as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers. He also noted that voter turnout was down 25 percentage points from 1997.