by RAY FLEMING
AT his White House press conference with the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday President Obama went further in his criticisms of the Iran regime than he had done previously. Perhaps he had been annoyed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad feigned expression of surprise that Obama should be saying the same things as George W Bush. Whatever the reason, the President said: “I would suggest Mr Ahmadinejad thinks carefully about the obligation he owes to his people. And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who've been beaten up or shot or detained.” Mrs Merkel also took a tough line, saying, “Iran cannot count on the world turning a blind eye”. She also persisted in her view that there should be a recount of election votes. But in the end these are merely words and it is questionable whether there is any longer any point to them. No country could have been more criticised than Iran over the past two weeks but the result has been negligible. It is not even clear whether the brave protesters in the streets want such criticism to be made. It may show that they have international supporters - in principle -- but they also know that the United States is not going to intervene in any substantial way. During his election campaign Barack Obama pledged to open talks with Iran. He now has to consider very carefully indeed whether that pledge should still stand -- assuming, of course, that Iran wants to talk.

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