From correspondents in the United Nations | August 12
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has congratulated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his disputed re-election in June that sparked weeks of massive protest, his office said today.
"The letter went out yesterday," United Nations deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.
She stressed that this was a "customary letter" sent to leaders after they are elected or re-elected and that it did not represent an endorsement of Mr Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian president was declared the winner of the June 12 election, despite claims of vote rigging from supporters of his defeated rivals that generated massive street demonstrations against the Islamic regime.
Ms Okabe said Mr Ban's letter seized on Mr Ahmadinejad's inauguration, which took place last week, to "express the hope that Iran and the United Nations will continue to cooperate closely in addressing regional and global issues".
Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was Mr Ahmadinejad's closest rival in the vote but lost heavily according to surprise official results, has dismissed the incoming government as "illegitimate".
Iranian Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi yesterday called for intensified world pressure to help her country democratise and denounced the crackdown on opposition protesters.
"I oppose military and economic sanctions against Iran, as they will aggravate the situation," Ms Ebadi was quoted as saying in an interview with South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
"However, intensified international public opinion will contribute to Iran's democratisation."
Ms Ebadi, a lawyer and human rights defender who won the Nobel prize in 2003, arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a six-day trip to receive this year's Manhae Peace Prize, named after a 20th century Korean Buddhist reformer.
Source: The Australian