NEW YORK – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a previously unannounced meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at United Nations headquarters in New York City Sunday afternoon.
Ahmadinejad, who arrived in New York Saturday to address the General Assembly on Tuesday, spent more than 30 minutes with the U.N. chief in his office. It was not disclosed if anyone else was present.
Afterward, the U.N. issued a brief note on the meeting which had an ominous tone.
In its confirmation, Ban’s office says the U.N. chief asked the Iranian leader to calm his inflammatory rhetoric.
“The Secretary-General drew attention to the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric, counter-rhetoric and threats from various countries in the Middle East.”
Ban also stressed his concerns over the deteriorating situation in Syria.
“The Secretary-General spoke of grave regional implications of the worsening situation in Syria and underlined the devastating humanitarian impact.”
Neither the U.N. nor Iran’s United Nations mission would release any information on what, if anything, Ahmadinejad had to say.
Earlier in the day, senior Iranian military officials in Tehran spoke about the increasing probability of a conflict with Washington and Jerusalem.
Not coincidentally, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, making a “low-key” visit to New York in advance of a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the week to speak at the U.N. had no reaction to the Ban-Ahmadinejad meeting.
Nor did the U.S. mission.
Ban’s office explained that the secretary-general might also meet the Israeli defense minister, but timing was still being “worked on.”