TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s ultraconservative president-elect on Monday dismissed as “baseless” allegations of his involvement in the 1979 hostage-taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and in killing dissidents.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said Iran was seeking “fair and expanding” relations with the world.
“The dissemination of baseless information by Western countries despite enjoying advanced intelligence gathering capabilities is questionable,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with Iranian lawmakers.
“We seek fair and expanding relations with all countries, and I advise them to adjust their stances toward Iran,” said Ahmadinejad (pronounced aah-MA-dee-ni-JAHD).
Seven former American hostages held in the embassy take-over have claimed that Ahmadinejad was one of their captors, though organizers of the hostage-taking have said he was not among them.
A separate allegation stems from a report by the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, quoting a top official with Austria’s Green Party as saying authorities have “very convincing” evidence linking Ahmadinejad to the 1989 slaying of Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou, an Iranian opposition Kurdish leader in Vienna.
The agency report didn’t say if the president-elect commented on that charge, but a former top Iranian intelligence official, now an opponent of Ahmadinejad, has said the accusation is incorrect.
Ahmadinejad also criticized remarks by Western countries about last month’s presidential election in Iran.
“These countries will have to explain why they are attacking the democratic behavior of the Iranian people,” he said.
Ahmadinejad won a surprise victory in the election in late June, solidifying the control of Iran’s hard-liners on the nation’s leadership and dealing a blow to the faltering reform movement.
President Bush has said the claims swirling around Ahmadinejad are not his primary concern, and that he instead wants the Europeans to make clear to the new leader that a nuclear-armed Iran will not be tolerated.
Iran insists it is pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, such as generating power. The U.S. claims Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad, the former mayor of Tehran, has said Iran would not curtail its nuclear program and would restart its uranium enrichment activities, which it voluntarily suspended in November to avoid possible U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Uranium enriched to low levels has energy uses, while highly enriched uranium can be used in bombs.
France, Germany and Britain are offering economic incentives to Iran to convince it to permanently freeze its enrichment program.
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