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US offers condolences, criticism in aftermath of Iranian president’s death

The White House on Monday offered its condolences over the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, while simultaneously criticizing his human rights record and rejecting the suggestion that U.S. sanctions on Iran played a role in the crash.

The State Department expressed its “official condolences” for the death of Raisi, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others who died in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran. White House spokesperson John Kirby reiterated those condolences. 

But the administration did not hold back in its criticism of Raisi and in its support for the Iranian people.

“President Raisi was responsible for atrocious human rights in his own country,” Kirby told reporters. “The arrest and the physical violence against hundreds of protesters, for instance. And of course he’s responsible … for the support that Iran provided terrorist networks throughout the region.

“No question this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands,” Kirby added. “That said, as we would in any other case, we certainly regret in general the loss of life and offered official condolences as appropriate.”

Kirby dismissed claims from some in Iran that U.S. sanctions were responsible for the crash as “utterly baseless.”

“But I would note that Iranian official sources are out there citing poor flying conditions as a cause for concern — specifically fog,” he said. “And every country, no matter who they are, has a responsibility, their own responsibility to ensure the safety and reliability of its equipment, and that includes civil aviation.” 

The crash comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, with Israel and Hamas engaged in a conflict that started with Hamas killing more than 1,100 Israelis in attacks last October. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have died in subsequent fighting in Gaza.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, named Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as the acting president, The Associated Press reported.

Kirby told reporters the change in Iranian leadership would not affect the fraught relationship between Washington and Tehran or spur a change in behavior from either side.

Source: The Hill

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