U.S. can't be seen as 'meddling' in Iran, Obama says

Despite ongoing and widespread unrest and violence in the streets of Iran, President Obama said Tuesday that "it's not productive" for Iran to perceive that the U.S. is "meddling" in the country's elections.

Obama repeated his "deep concerns" about the violence he is witnessing and the questions surrounding the Iranian presidential election that saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claim victory.

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"And I think the world has deep concerns about the election," Obama said. "You've seen in Iran some initial reaction from the supreme leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election."  

But the president said "it's not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections."

"What I will repeat, and what I said yesterday, is that when I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, wherever that takes place, it is of concern to me and it's of concern to the American people," Obama said. "That is not how governments should interact with their people.  And my hope is — is that the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices, to express their aspirations. "

The president, talking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, did seem to applaud the dissenters' apparent rejection of Ahmadinejad's past rhetoric.

Obama said he sees that "there is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures toward the international community that have taken place in the past, and that there are people who want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy." 

"How that plays out over the next several days and several weeks is something ultimately for the Iranian people to decide," Obama said. "But I stand strongly with the universal principle that people's voices should be heard and not suppressed."