Iran hits back at U.S. over dictatorship comment

TEHRAN Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:36am EST

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki speaks with journalists while attending a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Tehran February 16, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki speaks with journalists while attending a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Tehran February 16, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran hit back at the United States on Tuesday for saying the Islamic state was moving toward a military dictatorship, accusing Washington of pursuing wrong policies in the Middle East.

"They themselves are involved in a sort of military dictatorship and have practically ignored the realities and the truths in the region," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, according to ISNA news agency.

"America has a wrong attitude toward the issues in the Middle East and it is the continuation of their past wrong policies," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday the United States believes Iran's Revolutionary Guards are driving the country toward military dictatorship and should be targeted in any new U.N. sanctions.

"We are sorry for Mrs. Clinton...for trying to divert public opinion in the region toward unreal and untruthful matters," Mottaki said.

Speaking in Qatar before flying to Riyadh, Clinton denied the United States planned to attack Iran and said Washington wanted dialogue with Tehran but could not "stand idly by" while Iran pursued a suspected nuclear weapons program.

Clinton said Washington hoped to pressure Iran through a U.N. Security Council resolution targeting the Revolutionary Guards, who she accused of usurping the government.

"We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament, is being supplanted and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship," she told students in a televised session.

The United States is leading a push for the U.N. Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, which says its nuclear program is solely to generate electricity so it can export more of its oil and gas.

(Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Angus MacSwan)

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