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Germany's Merkel: Iran should recount votes Ed: PDTE wthne Mrkl

Germany's Merkel: Iran should recount votes Ed: PDTE wthne Mrkl

BRLN AP _ Geman Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Iran on Sunday to recount the votes in its disputed presidential election, refrain from using force against protesters and permit free reporting of the situation.
"Germany stands on the side of the people in Iran who want to exercise their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly," Merkel said in a brief statement.
Merkel called on Iran's leaders to allow peaceful protests, stop using force against demonstrators, free detained opposition members and allow free media reporting. She said human rights "must be fully respected."
As for the election itself, "I think the doubts could very well be eliminated by simply repeating the counting, making it transparent, if necessary with international observers, and then confidence could grow again," Merkel said later Sunday in brief remarks to reporters.
A full recount would be "the best and easiest way to achieve clarity here," she said.
Hours before the chancellor issued her statement, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki rebuked Germany, France and Britain for raising questions about reports of voting irregularities in hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election.
Merkel did not mention Mottaki's comments, and neither did Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a separate statement.
Iran "stands at a crossroads," Steinmeier said. "Either it will be possible to defuse the situation that has arisen in a dialogue of all political forces; or the situation threatens to escalate further."
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