UNITED NATIONS, Aug 11 (Reuters) – The United Nations said on Tuesday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has congratulated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose contested re-election sparked violent protests across the country.
“The letter went out yesterday,” said U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe.
Iran’s June 12 election, which secured hardline President Ahmadinejad’s re-election, plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite and set off a wave of protests that left 26 people dead. [ID:nHAF039117]
Western leaders, already upset by Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric, Holocaust denial and uncompromising nuclear line, refused to congratulate the president on his inauguration last week, although their counterparts in Japan and Turkey did so.
Among those leaders who withheld their congratulations to Ahmadinejad were U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The U.N. spokeswoman said Ban’s letter was a “customary letter on occasion of inauguration” but added that the text would not be made public. The secretary-general routinely congratulates leaders after elections and the U.N. has released the content of some of those messages in the past.