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US launches virtual embassy for Iran
The administration of US President Barack Obama has launched a virtual embassy for Iran in what it said was a bid to promote dialogue with the Iranian people in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
The web-based embassy went online on Tuesday in English and Farsi, offering visitors what it described as "another perspective" for Iranians who "remain hungry for information about the United States".
"This website is not a formal diplomatic mission, nor does it represent or describe a real US embassy accredited to the Iranian government," the US state department said in an introductory note.
"But, in the absence of direct contact, it can work as a bridge between the American and Iranian people."
'Deprived' of relationship
The note said the events of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the embassy hostage crisis, in which 52 Americans were held hostage in Iran for 444 days, had cost the US a relationship with the Iranian people.
Diplomatic relations were severed between the two countries following the revolution and hostage crisis.
"While the world knows that the United States lost an embassy in Iran, in fact, we lost more: we were deprived of a relationship with the Iranian people, access to Iranian society, and thousands of daily interactions between American and Iranian citizens,'' the state department said.
It said the virtual embassy would allow Iranians to "make up their own minds" about the US as well as offer US concerns about the Iranian government's actions in an effort to "achieve a resolution to those concerns".
The state department created a Farsi-language Twitter account and Facebook page earlier this year, in what it said was a bid to encourage feedback. It said the virtual embassy was designed to compliment those efforts.
Iran is currently locked in a dispute with the US and its allies over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, which the West believes is aimed at the development of nuclear weapons. Iran denies the accusations, saying its programme is entirely peaceful.
Iran Blocks US Virtual Embassy Effort
The move was a decisive reaction by the Iranian authorities to the latest plots hatched by Washington against the Iranian nation.
Western, including American, analysts had earlier cautioned Washington that the move would be ineffective and the website would turn into a social website with no tangible result for the US.
In October, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in interviews with the Persian language services of the BBC and Voice of America said the United States plans to open a "virtual embassy" for Iran that would give Iranians online information about visas and student exchange programs despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties".
Clinton used both interviews to pretend that the United States hoped to broaden contacts with regular Iranians despite tensions with the Tehran government, and described Iran's Islamic establishment as a military dictatorship. She also said the "virtual embassy" website would be open by the end of the year and it would provide Iranians with information on visas and other programs.
In her astonishingly interfering remarks, Clinton said the United States was providing both technology and training to help Iranians circumvent government limits on the Internet and other forms of communication while seeking to expand sanctions on Tehran.
In response, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast called on the White House officials to stop meddling in Tehran's domestic affairs, and said the recent remarks made by Clinton on Iran displayed her lack of knowledge and information.
Mehman-Parast strongly rejected the allegations raised by Clinton in her interview with the BBC against Tehran, and stressed, "Mrs. Clinton's lack of information about Iran's issues has a history. Hence, she and other US administration officials are advised to stop using suppressive methods and exercising dictatorship inside the US and avoid continuing occupation and interventionist policies towards other countries instead of leveling accusations against others."
"Officials of the United States of America had better meet the demands of their people, specially the youth, which are manifested in the Occupy Wall Street Protest Movement and comply with the demands and aspirations declared by the people in the Islamic Awakening and popular uprisings in the regional countries who want the US to give up support for dependant rulers and stop military and security presence and interference in the other countries' affairs," he added.