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Brown: Iran Using Britain as Scapegoat for Political Unrest

, VOA, London

The diplomatic row between Tehran and London continues to rumble. Speaking during prime minister's question time in the House of Commons, Gordon Brown said he believed some elements in Iran are using Britain as an excuse not to allow totally lawful demonstrations to go ahead.

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"Some people in Iran are trying to seek to use Britain as an explanation for the legitimate Iranian voices calling for the greater openness and democracy. But we will continue with our international partners to raise our concerns with Iran," the prime minister said.

Since the disputed June 12 elections, Britain and Iran have expelled two of each other's diplomats. On Sunday, it was announced that nine Iranian staff members at the British embassy in Tehran were being detained and questioned for allegedly stirring unrest in the days after that election, an allegation strongly denied by London.

During his parliamentary question session, Gordon Brown expressed his view Iranian actions have been completely wrong.
"I am sure the whole House will share my deep disappointment at the recent behavior of the Iranian regime. Disappointment at the manner in which legitimate demonstrations have been suppressed, ... disappointment that the Iranian government has expelled two of our diplomats and detained several of our embassy staff, this action is unjustified and it is unacceptable," he said.

Most of the Iranian employees at the British Embassy who were detained have now been freed, but questions remain. Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he thinks two are still being held. But Iran's English-language Press TV reported that only one person remained in detention.

Meanwhile, senior European Union officials on Thursday will debate a British call for all 27-member states to pull their envoys from Iran. But many in Europe feel such a move would only further isolate Iran and that could bring with it additional unwanted consequences.

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