Washington, Aug.6 (ANI): White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has described Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the "elected leader" of Iran.
Walking back on his remarks from a day earlier in which he concluded that Ahmadinejad's re-election was an ongoing debate "in Iran by Iranians," Gibbs said that was now the elected leader of that country and that the United States remains committed to the goal of "reaching out in order to ensure that they don't develop a nuclear weapons program."
Asked whether that meant the administration recognizes Ahmadinejad as the legitimate president of Iran, the spokesman replied, "He's the elected leader."
According to Fox News, Gibbs admitted candidly that he wanted to "correct a little bit" of what he said on Tuesday.
Despite massive opposition to his return to power and several show trials of hundreds of protest organizers and participants, Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term on Wednesday.
His inauguration was surrounded by security, including a mile-wide area cordoned off around the Parliament building and 9,000 police, anti-riot and plains-clothed officers.
One woman, who was able to get within earshot of the two-term president, was arrested for yelling out in support of the opposition candidate Houssein Mir Mousavi.
"Long live Mousavi. Death to the dictator," she shouted.
Traveling in Kenya on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Iranian government to "recognize the rights of the people of Iran" and to make democracy "much more than a flawed election as that last one was."
Clinton added that the United States still has "engagement" on the table for Tehran, either directly or through a multi-country forum, but has not received any response. She said President Obama intends to re-evaluate Iran's willingness to meet and negotiate this fall, but provided other considerations are in place. (ANI)