AhmadinejadIsrael news photo: (file)

Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday that his criticism of crackdowns in Tehran could lead to a “crushing” response. Reformist Iranian candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was declared the loser in the recent elections, continued to call for new elections on Sunday.

“If you continue your meddlesome stance,” the Iranian President proudly told Obama, “the Iranian nation’s response will be crushing and regret-inducing.” He called the U.S. President’s criticism of his crackdown on dissidents “unconventional, abnormal and discourteous.”

Ahmadinejad spoke out after Obama urged him on Friday to “consider looking at the families of those who’ve been beaten or shot or detained.” The ongoing dispute between the two world leaders is another setback for the Obama's plan to reach out to Iran through dialogue.

To calm violent protests which have claimed the lives of 17 Iranians, the Guardian Council offered a partial recount of a tenth of the ballots in the disputed presidential elections. But reformist leader Mousavi rejected the proposal and called for a new election.

“The most suitable solution to restore public confidence,” he said, “would be to nullify election results and allow a new round of polling.” The Guardian Council has already said the election was fair, however, and is expected to declare Ahmadinejad’s victory official soon.

Human Rights Watch said Saturday that pro-government militiamen have been patrolling Tehran, damaging private property and assaulting civilians in order to stop ongoing protests. On Sunday, police arrested eight Iranians who had worked in the British embassy, claiming they fomented riots.