June 15, 2009 / 8:04 PM / 11 years ago

Iranian ambassador unavailable for French summons

(Recasts with ambassador unavailable, details of meeting)

PARIS, June 15 (Reuters) - France summoned the Iranian ambassador in Paris on Monday to express its concern over events surrounding a contested presidential election but the ambassador was unavailable, the foreign ministry said.

Instead, the first secretary from the Iranian embassy went to the foreign ministry to hear French concerns about allegations of voting irregularities, arrests of opposition activists and hostile protests at the French embassy in Tehran.

"The Iranian ambassador having declared that he was unavailable, it was the first secretary who came to the ministry," a statement said.

The ministry said it had told the diplomat that Iran should investigate allegations of vote rigging in an election that officially handed a landslide victory to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We also told him we wished to see freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate respected," the ministry added, complaining that French journalists had been the targets of repression by the Iranian authorities.

"We also stressed that Iranian security forces should protect the French embassy, which was targeted yesterday by a hostile demonstration," it said.

Hardline Islamic militiamen killed at least one person and wounded more on Monday when their building was attacked by demonstrators protesting against an election they say was stolen by Ahmadinejad.

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