Did Ban congratulate Ahmadinejad?

UN spokeswoman backtracks on reported letter congratulating Iran's president on election win.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives the presidential decr (photo credit: AP)
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives the presidential decr
(photo credit: AP)

Contradictory statements surrounded a congratulatory letter which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reportedly sent to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier in the week for his election win.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives...Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives the presidential decree from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his second term as president. Photo: AP

While UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe was quoted on Tuesday as confirming that Ban had sent the letter, she revised her statement on Wednesday, saying, "It is not accurate to refer to this as a congratulatory letter." Reuters reported that she refused to disclose the contents of the letter.

Instead, she said that the letter expressed "the hope that Iran and the United Nations will continue to cooperate closely in addressing regional and global issues."

On Monday, Iran's official news agency reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also sent congratulations to Ahmadinejad, though the report did not provide further details, and news of the message was not carried by Egypt's state press.

Cairo has not publicly commented on Ahmadinejad's re-election, which the Iranian opposition believes was fraudulent.

In contrast, European Union officials said last week that the 27-nation bloc would not send a traditional note of congratulations to Ahmadinejad.

EU spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio told reporters that the bloc "has not sent a congratulatory message and does not intend to do so" in the wake of his contentious re-election.

Alex Sorin contributed to this report