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In Tehran, growing brutality undermines prospect for Iran-US dialogue

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"The movement has lost its momentum," says an Iranian professional, who could not be further identified. "And as you know, the more we move toward the end, the more savage the forces will get, since there will be less coverage [and] less [protesters]."

Impact of second Ahmadinejad term

As the regime accuses Western governments and media, especially the United States and Britain, of stoking the protests and "meddling," analysts in Tehran are divided over the likely impact of a second Ahmadinejad term on possible US-Iran dialogue.

"There is no doubt the president is enthusiastic about the prospects of renewing ties with the US," says a political observer in Tehran who could not be further identified for security reasons. "But I think given the present situation he might be in a weaker position to negotiate. The supreme leader might be suspicious, too."

Conducting a diplomatic balancing act between condemning the violence against protesters, and the strategic American need of negotiating with whatever Iranian government finally emerges, Mr. Obama on Tuesday made his strongest comments yet, saying that he was "appalled" by what he saw.

"Probably [Khamenei] is enraged by the recent [US] announcements. It remains to be seen if this is influencing his decision to engage," says the observer.

After days of silence during the protest, Ahmadinejad sought to portray business as usual on Wednesday, and was shown on state TV meeting a delegation from Belarus—a former Soviet state widely considered the "last dictatorship in Europe."

Possible downgrading of ties with Britain

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