TEHRAN, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Foreign Ministry criticized EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for meeting with a number of Iranian female rights activists in her recent visit to Tehran, local media reported on Monday.
"Ashton's selective approach towards human rights issues in Iran will only deepen the Iranian nation's distrust of the West," semi-official Fars news agency quoted Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying.
"Such moves will deepen our people's suspicion of the West and are not helpful to the relations between Iran and the European Union," Afkham said.
Afkham said contacting civil society is recognized as long as it doesn't interfere in other countries' internal affairs and if customs and values are respected, adding that Ashton's meeting with the dissident Iranian females, which took place without prior coordination with the Iranian foreign ministry, is rooted in the Western double-standards.
The report added the ministry sent an official protest note to the Austrian embassy in Tehran, which reportedly organized the meetings between Ashton and the rights activists.
On Sunday, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri slammed Ashton for meeting with "notorious people" and for violating diplomatic rules by " interfering" in Iran's internal affairs, according to the report.
"We won't allow the West to meddle in Iran's internal affairs under any pretext," Jazayeri said, adding that "Ashton had better think of resolving the problems related to women's rights in the EU."
Ashton arrived in Tehran on Saturday on an official landmark visit after the Islamic republic and the world powers clinched an interim nuclear deal last November on Iran's disputed nuclear program. She met with high-ranking officials, including the president and the foreign minister, as well as some human right activists.
Ashton said human rights situation in Iran was one of the topics raised in her meetings with Iranian officials during her visit to the country.