(TEHRAN, Iran) — United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s first visit to Tehran Wednesday was either a denouncement of a number of the Iranian government’s policies or a pleasant visit with his hosts, depending on which source you believe.
Following visits with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and other Iranian officials, Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said the secretary general expressed various concerns, including Iran’s failure to move forward on talks on its rogue nuclear ambitions, which the West contends is to create an atomic weapons arsenal.
Nesirky said Ban told his hosts that they “needed to take concrete steps and prove to the world its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.”
As for the situation in Syria, Ban was clear that Iran must use its close alliance with Damascus to help bring an end to the bloody conflict that has lasted 18 months, according to the spokesman, who would not say if the secretary general pushed Tehran to encourage President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
Ban also touched on the issue of human rights and the failure by Iran to respect fundamental civil and political rights, Nesirky said.
Iran’s state news media, however, painted the meetings in a different way.
It was reported that while Ban and Iranian leaders talked about Syria, the secretary general agreed with his hosts that the West should not intervene in the conflict. The government also suggested that the U.N. official also condemned U.S. and Israeli attempts to isolate Iran because of their objection to its nuclear operations.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN
James Griffiths and Shen Lu
Michael Pearson and Steve Almasy, CNN
Claire Moran, CNN