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Criticism over Iran visit again rejected

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has rejected renewed criticism of her visit to Tehran last week.

This content was published on March 23, 2008 - 17:22

She denied allegations she was the victim of state propaganda by the Iranian authorities trying to bypass international sanctions.

Calmy-Rey reiterated that she raised human rights issues during her talks with the president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, and the Iranian foreign minister.

She also said her presence at the signing ceremony for a deal between a private Swiss energy firm and Iran's national gas export company was in the interest of Swiss business and diplomacy.

Calmy-Rey said Switzerland had its own strategic interest to defend, despite criticism by other countries. The United States and Israel accused Switzerland of setting a bad example.

She said she covered her hair during her visit to Iran to respect the local tradition and to be able to hold talks on human rights and Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

The pictures of Calmy-Rey wearing a headscarf provoked an outcry in Switzerland as critics accused her of showing a sign of submission.

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