Biden: U.S. Accepts Iran’s Election Results, For Now

VP responds to Ahmadinejad's re-election on "Meet the Press"

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Vice President Joe Biden called the results of Iran's recent elections, "questionable."

During his first appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" as second-in-command, Biden said the U.S. has to accept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's sweeping re-elction "for the time being." But, the Obama administration will be looking into the validity of the results, he added.

Regardless of the election results, Biden said the U.S. remains committed to stopping Iran's nuclear program and its support of terrorism--allegations Iran denies.

Whether the vote accurately reflected Iranians' response to President Barack Obama's effort to open a dialogue after a nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze, isn't clear, Biden said.

"That's the question. Is this the result of the Iranian people's wishes?" Biden said. "The hope is that the Iranian people all their votes have been counted, they've been counted fairly. But look, we just don't know enough" since Friday's vote.

While Ahmadinejad insisted the results showing his landslide victory were fair and legitimate, Biden simple said, "You know I have doubts."

"It sure looks like the way they're suppressing speech, the way they're suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated, that there's some real doubt about that," Biden said.

"I don't think we're in a position to say. What surprised me in that the assertion that he won by what 60 some percent of the vote, and so I think we have to wait and see. But it didn't seem on its face to be as clear cut."

The vice president tried to follow a careful line, however, given the administration's attempts to engage Iran.

Asked about recognizing Ahmadinejad's claim of victory over rival Mir Hossen Mousavi, Biden said, "We have to accept that for the time being. But there's an awful lot of questions about how this election was run. And we'll see. We're just waiting to see. We don't have enough facts to make a firm judgment."

He acknowledged the U.S. was disturbed by the Iranian government's suppression of free speech and crackdown on crowds protesting Ahmadinejad's re-election.

Ahmadinejad dismissed the unrest — the worst in the decade in Tehran — as "not important" and insisted the election results were fair and legitimate. Supporters organized a huge rally backing the president even as clashes flared around the capital.

The violence spilling from the disputed results has pushed Iran's Islamic establishment to respond with sweeping measures that include deploying anti-riot squads around the capital and cutting mobile phone messaging and Internet sites used by Mousavi's campaign.

In addition to Obama's diplomatic entreaties, Iran is under growing pressure to make concessions on its nuclear program or face possible more international penalties.

There was no indication that Washington was pulling back from it's desire for increased contacts despite the possibility that the outcome of presidential vote in Iran was predetermined by Ahmadinejad and his allies in the ruling clerical establishment.

But the outcome of the election and the crackdown on citizens' ability to protest was sure to be seen as a setback for Obama policy of engagement with the Islamic Republic from which the United States has been estranged since the religious leadership took power four decades ago, ousting the U.S.-allied shah.

Other topics discussed during the morning show included the economy and healthcare. Biden credited the $787 billion stimulus package for the creation of 150,000 new jobs--a number that has come under some criticism.  Despite host, David Gregory's prodding about the validity of that number, Biden said, whether it was 147,000 jobs, or 148,000 jobs didn't matter.  The package "clearly had an impact," and that the unemployment rate "would have been considerably higher but for this stimulus package."

He also expressed optimism about a public health insurance bill making its way through Congress and progress between Israel and its neighbors.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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