Armenian Parliamentary Visit to Iran Canceled as Post-Election Tensions Rise

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–An Armenian parliamentary delegation led by speaker Hovik Abrahamian cancelled a weekend visit to neighboring Iran at the last minute amid mounting post-election tensions there.

The National Assembly’s press service announced on Friday evening that the delegation, also comprising Energy Minister Armen Movsisian, will fly to Tehran on Saturday for talks with the embattled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders. It was due to return to Yerevan the next day.

A spokesman for Abrahamian, Nairi Petrosian, told RFE/RL on Saturday that the trip has been “postponed at the Iranian side’s request.” He declined to be drawn on the reason for the postponement and possible new dates for the visit.

Ahmadinejad has been facing massive opposition protests in and outside the Islamic Republic since securing a hotly disputed reelection in a presidential ballot held on June 12. Several dozen supporters of his main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, rallied outside the Iranian embassy in Yerevan last week to protest against what they claim was a falsification of vote results. Some of them staged a similar protest outside the UN office in Armenia on Monday.

An estimated 5,000 Iranian nationals, many of them university students and ethnic Armenians, live in Armenia. According to the Iranian Press TV, 1,625 of them took part in the presidential vote, with 79 percent voting for Mousavi and only 15 percent for Ahmadinejad.

President Serzh Sarkisian, who himself has faced opposition allegations of vote rigging, was quick to congratulate his Iranian counterpart on winning a second term in office. The two leaders pledged to boost ties between their nations when they last met in Tehran in April.

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