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Iranian president blasts U.S. at SCO summit in Russia


YEKATERINBURG, June 16 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's controversial president said on Tuesday that ongoing regional conflicts and the global economic crisis proved that the current unipolar world dominated by the United States is not viable.

Despite mass protests at home against his landslide reelection last Friday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which Iran has observer status.

"Iraq continues to be occupied, chaos is growing in Afghanistan, the Palestinian problem remains unresolved, the world is swept by political and economic crises, and there is no hope for their resolution," he said.

Ahmadinejad said the U.S. and its allies were unable to cope with the crises, showing that "the end has come" for the current unipolar world order.

He urged the SCO to take a leading role in efforts to tackle the global economic recession, and reiterated Iran's ambition for closer cooperation with the regional group, which includes Russia, China and four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.

The Islamic Republic, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, has lobbied for full membership in the organization, seen as a counterbalance to U.S. interests in energy-rich Central Asia. The security grouping has recently expanded its remit to encompass economic and energy projects.

Ahmadinejad briefly met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday. "The parties agreed to continue economic and humanitarian cooperation, and other contacts," a Kremlin spokesperson said after the meeting.

Media reports said earlier on Tuesday that Medvedev had canceled his bilateral meeting with Ahmadinejad, citing a busy schedule, as the Iranian leader arrived a day late.

Tehran and other Iranian cities were swept by mass protests at the weekend over alleged vote fraud in the reelection of the hardline, anti-Western president.

The protests, the worst since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, continued in defiance of a government ban on Monday, with sporadic shooting reported in the capital. Seven people were killed when shots were fired into a group of protesters, Iran's Press TV reported on Tuesday, citing state radio.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he was "deeply troubled" by the violence in Iran.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said on Tuesday that the "election in Iran is an internal affair of the Iranian people." He also welcomed Ahmadinejad as "the reelected president" on his first foreign visit.

Iran has been in the center of a long-running international dispute over its nuclear program. Western powers have been trying to persuade Tehran to halt nuclear activity suspecting it of plans to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says it needs nuclear technology for electricity generation.

Russia is completing the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant, and has supplied nuclear fuel for it. Russia and China, permanent UN Security Council members, have prevented strict sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its controversial nuclear activity.

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