EU Nations Criticize Iran Election, Concerned Over Protests

EU nations criticized Iranian authorities Sunday over the conduct of presidential elections and their "brutal" reaction against demonstrators protesting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters in Paris his government is "very worried" about the situation in Iran following Friday's vote and postelection violence that erupted after the release of results Saturday.

Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of the vote, which is disputed by his reformist rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Kouchner criticized "the somewhat brutal reaction" by authorities in response to demonstrations and warned that the aftermath of the election "could leave lasting scars" and urged Western governments to engage with Iranians and win their trust.

In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the "course of the election in Iran raises many questions" and called for "authorities in Tehran to carefully look into these accusations to in an effort provide a full explanation."

He further criticized the police response to the protests.

"Security services' violent actions against demonstrators is not acceptable, nor is preventing peaceful protest," Steinmeier said in a statement. "We will carefully monitor the situation on the ground."

The 27-nation EU said it was "concerned about alleged irregularities" during the election.

The EU in a statement released late Saturday says it hopes the outcome of the elections will ease tensions between Iran and the international community over its nuclear program.