U.N.: Ban did not congratulate Ahmadinejad


NEW YORK (JTA) — The United Nations said it has not congratulated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his contested re-election, despite reports saying it did.

A spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday retracted a previous statement, saying a letter dispatched to the Iranian leader could not be construed as being "congratulatory," Reuters reported.

"It is not accurate to refer to this as a congratulatory letter," spokeswoman Marie Okabe was quoted as saying by Reuters. "The letter takes advantage of the occasion of the inauguration to express the hope that Iran and the United Nations will continue to cooperate closely in addressing regional and global issues."

Okabe said the United Nations would not release the content of the letter to the public.

On Wednesday, Okabe was quoted as saying that Ban had sent a letter congratulating Ahmadinejad, who was announced the winner of the recent elections in the Islamic Republic amid widespread allegations of voter fraud and rigging. Massive protests against the results of the election were quelled with force by Iranian security forces.

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