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Iran rules out expulsion of British ambassador

Tehran, May 23, IRNA -- Iran Sunday dismissed a demand made by a group of anti-war demonstrators to expel the British ambassador, Richard Dalton, in protest at the emerging prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq.

Meanwhile, another protest rally was held in front of the British Embassy, where a group of students expressed their 'anger and hatred at the aggressive and inhuman policies of the occupiers' in Iraq.

Police were deployed around the compound to prevent the protestors from getting closer to the mission.

Speaking to reporter here, Foreign Minister spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, "The issue of expelling the British ambassador to Tehran is not on the Foreign Ministry's agenda."

"This is a country where individuals can freely express their views and students are no exception. But as it regards the Islamic Republic's decision, this must be decided after all aspects of the issue and the country's interests are attended to," he added.

The person in charge of the embassy's press affairs and public relation, Roksana Shahpour, told IRNA that the visa section of the mission had suspended its operation, but other staff were carrying out their work as usual.

Angry demonstrators, protesting against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, have hurled petrol bombs, firecrackers and stones at the British Embassy in Tehran in the past few days.

Asefi stressed that the Iranian police were having the situation under control and urged the demonstrators to respect diplomatic missions in the capital.

The street across the main gate of the British Embassy's compound has been the scene of clashes between police and demonstrators who have set effigies of the US and British leaders on fire.

The protests are held against a backdrop of clashes and bloodlet in several holy Shiite cities and further revelations of a prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, which have shocked the world.

Hundreds of unreleased videos and photographs, depicting harrowing sexual humiliation at the hands of U.S. soldiers, have added an anti-Islamic dimension to such abuses.

According to The Washington Post report Friday, Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison were forced to renounce their religion, eat pork and drink liquor in contravention of Islamic religious tenets.

... Payvand News - 5/23/04 ... --

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