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Middle East: Syria: Assad Praises Election and Iran

A day after his re-election in a disputed vote, President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday that the 73 percent turnout the government reported in the vote sent a message that Syrians were “determined to manage their own affairs,” brushing off criticism of the vote and calls for an internationally brokered political transition. Syria’s state news agency reported that Mr. Assad, who made the comments during a meeting with a high-ranking Iranian official, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, also praised Iran’s nuclear program, the subject of intense international negotiations. Iran says the program is for civilian purposes, while the United States says it is a military program. Mr. Boroujerdi was part of a delegation of election observers from Iran — a country that has provided considerable support to ensure the survival of Mr. Assad. The Iranian delegation declared that the election, in which the president garnered 89 percent of the vote, was free and fair. Mr. Assad’s opposition has denounced the election as a farce.

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(via NY Times)