Cancelling Iran opposition protests 'regrettable': Clinton
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called "regrettable" the Iranian opposition's cancellation of anti-government protests planned for this weekend, the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election.
"It is not only regrettable that the opposition cancelled demonstrations... but it demonstrates very clearly why the Iranian regime has caused so much concern throughout the world," she told reporters here on a visit to the island nation.
Iranian opposition leaders earlier Thursday called off rallies planned for Saturday in part "to protect the lives and properties of the people," Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi said in a joint statement.
In recent weeks both Mousavi and Karroubi had renewed calls for fresh presidential elections and said they rejected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's authority.
"When you look at the combination of their repression of their people, manipulation of their own elections, the fact they are an exporter and supporter of terrorist activities around the world, and the pursuit of nuclear weapons, it adds up to a very dangerous combination," Clinton said.
"And therefore we stand in solidarity with the people of Iran as we have since the beginning of the administration," she added.
After losing to Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election, Mousavi and Karroubi quickly dismissed the result as having been massively rigged, sparking street protests that rocked the Islamic republic last summer and winter.
Security forces cracked down heavily on dissent, with dozens of protesters killed, hundreds arrested and scores of prominent reformists, journalists and rights campaigners put on trial -- with many receiving stiff jail sentences.