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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

US: Iran put on notice over deadly protests

United States faced criticism from a number of countries over its move to call an emergency UN meeting

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya, left, speaks to his US counterpart Nikki Haley before a Security Council meeting on Iran. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya, left, speaks to his US counterpart Nikki Haley before a Security Council meeting on Iran. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The world is closely watching Iran’s response to protests in the country that left at least 21 people dead, the United States said Friday after it called an emergency meeting at the UN security council to show solidarity with the demonstrators.

The US ambassador Nikki Haley said the international community could not let Iran silence protesters’ messages about the country’s economic woes by blocking some social media platforms.

The decision to call the meeting was criticised by Russia for meddling in the internal affairs of its ally Iran. Countries such as China also criticised the move, with the French ambassador saying the protests did not pose a global security risk in an apparent rebuke to the US.

“However worrying the events of the last few days in Iran may be, they do not constitute per se a threat to international peace and security,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre. "We must be wary of any attempts to exploit this crisis for personal ends.”

The meeting followed a week of demonstrations and counter demonstrations across Iran and the largest challenge to the regime since protests that followed the disputed 2009 election victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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US President Donald Trump and members of his administration have praised the anti-government protesters as people standing up to a repressive and corrupt regime.

Ms Haley said Friday that "the world should applaud their courage," and the US "stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves."

"The Iranian regime is finally on notice: The world will be watching what you do," she said.

Iran, which has accused the US of stirring up the protests, said the meeting represented another foreign policy blunder for the United States.

Iran’s UN envoy, Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo, said the decision to call the meeting was “an abuse of its power as a Permanent Member, and an abuse of the Council itself”.

A Russian deputy foreign minister said it was an American attempt to violate Iran’s sovereignty. “The United States continues to pursue a policy of open and implicit interference in the internal affairs of other states — doing it unabashedly, openly, under the slogan of caring for democracy and human rights,” Sergei Ryabkov said Friday in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.

Mr Trump's administration has denied having any hand in the demonstrations, saying they arose completely spontaneously. The president's tweets have not called for violence or disruptive acts, but he has commended them. Mr Trump described Iran as "failing at every level" and declared it was “time for change”.

Iran's interior minister said up to 42,000 people took part during the week of protests. The days of pro-government rallies drew crowds in the tens of thousands.

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