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Iran says US 'virtual' embassy will fail

By Nasser Karimi
Associated Press / December 8, 2011
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TEHRAN, Iran—Iran's foreign ministry said in comments published Thursday that a web-based U.S. "virtual embassy" will fail to win over the Iranian people.

Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in remarks carried on state television's website that the American outreach project will not overcome the effects of Washington's hostility to Tehran.

"The virtual initiatives will neither compensate for (American) mistakes, nor relay the U.S. message to the Iranian people, " Mehmanparast said.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen in recent months over American claims that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, and that Iranian officials were involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Tehran denies both claims.

Iranian lawmakers had previously accused the virtual embassy of being a tool for espionage. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, called it a "new deception by the Great Satan," employing a term used by Iranian hardliners for the United States. His remarks were published by parliament's website on Wednesday.

Tehran residents say that the embassy's website was blocked by Iranian authorities less than a day after it went online on Tuesday.

The English- and Farsi-language website was designed by Washington to facilitate communications with the Iranian public.

Tehran and Washington cut diplomatic relations in the aftermath of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

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