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Obama: Ahmadinejad Should Answer To Victims' Kin

President Obama today dismissed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for him to apologize for criticizing the Iranian government's violent crackdown on protesters allied with reformist politician Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

"I don't take Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran," he said.

"I would suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people.," Mr. Obama continued. "And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who've been beaten or shot or detained. And, you know, that's where I think Mr. Ahmadinejad and others need to answer their questions."

In a press conference following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday afternoon, Mr. Obama continued to offer stronger rhetoric concerning government violence against protesters in Iran, referencing the government's "ruthlessness" and saying "the violence perpetrated against [protestors] is outrageous."

"And despite the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it," he said. "As I've said before, the Iranian people will be the ultimate judge of their government's actions. But if the Iranian government desires the respect of the international community, then it must respect the rights and heed the will of its people."

The president also said that there is "no doubt that any direct dialogue or diplomacy with Iran is going to be affected by the events of the last several weeks." He said he doesn't know how that dialogue will be affected since the situation has not yet played out.

Mr. Obama criticized an Iranian government "that cannot deal with peaceful protesters who are trying to have their voices heard in an equally peaceful way," saying it "has moved outside of universal norms, international norms that are important to uphold."

"Chancellor Merkel and I share the belief that what's happened in Iran is unacceptable when it comes to violence against its own citizens," said the president.

Merkel said "we have to work to it that the Iranian nuclear program is stopped, that Iran does not get possession of a nuclear weapon."

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen horrifying scenes, looking at how, for example, the security forces there dealt with demonstrators," she added. "We will not forget those. And let me say that we shall do everything in order to identify the exact number of victims, who those victims were, how they've dealt with those demonstrators."

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