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White House denounces Iran's blockage of virtual embassy


11:01, December 08, 2011

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Wednesday condemned the Iranian government for its blockage of a virtual U.S. embassy opened a day earlier for the Iranians.

"We condemn the Iranian government's efforts to deny their people the freedom to access America's recently launched Virtual Embassy Tehran," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

"Through this action, the Iranian government has once again demonstrated its commitment to build an electronic curtain of surveillance and censorship around its people," he said, asserting that the effort is "doomed to fail in a 21st century when technology is empowering citizens around the globe."

He said the U.S. "remains steadfast" in its commitment to a dialogue with the Iranian people based upon "mutual interests, mutual respect and admiration for a great and ancient civilization. "

The U.S. State Department opened the virtual embassy on Tuesday, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it "a platform for us to communicate with each other -- openly and without fear -- about the United States, about our policies, our culture, and the American people."

The virtual embassy targets in particular the large population of young people in Iran, serving as a hub in Persian and English for information on U.S. policy towards Iran, visa applications and opportunities to study in the United States, said Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

When Clinton first unveiled her virtual embassy plan in October, the Islamic Association Union of Iranian Students vowed to occupy it once it was launched.

Seyyed-Ali Mousavi, secretary of the students' movement, said that they would not allow the United States to enter Iran.

The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on April 7, 1980 after a group of Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy and captured some 60 U.S. diplomats in 1979, with 52 of them held captive for 444 days in a hostage crisis.

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