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Obama troubled by Iran post-election violence

President Barack Obama speaks about the health care system at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association in Chicago, Illinois, June 15, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he was deeply troubled by post-election violence in Iran and that free speech and the democratic process must be respected in the Islamic republic.

Obama told reporters he would continue pursuing tough, direct dialogue with Tehran but urged that any Iranian investigation of election irregularities be conducted without bloodshed.

“I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television,” Obama said of the unrest in Iran, after talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

“The democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected.”

He said the world was inspired by Iranian demonstrators who took to the streets in protest after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was officially declared the winner in his re-election bid.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Eric Beech

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