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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 22:34 GMT
Annan delays Iran trip after row
Iranians burn Israeli flag in Tehran
The UN said the 'time was not right' for Annan to visit Iran
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has postponed a scheduled trip to Iran, after the Iranian president called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

It was "not an appropriate time" for the UN chief to visit Iran, said Mr Annan's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

Mr Annan had been due to stop in Iran as part of a Middle East tour, which is beginning next week.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks in Tehran last week drew international condemnation.

"The secretary-general and the Iranian government have mutually agreed that this is not an appropriate time for him to travel to Iran," Mr Dujarric said.

"In light of the ongoing controversy, it would have been difficult to advance the agenda that he had wanted to discuss with the Iranian leadership."

Mr Dujarric did not elaborate on the "controversy" but said the decision was "mutually agreed" between the secretary general and the Iranian government.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev said his government "welcomes the international outrage that has been expressed to the obscene statements by the Iranian president and is heartened by the statements of world leaders who have condemned the remarks", the Associated Press news agency reported.

Wave of protests

Mr Annan had been due to visit Iran from 11 -13 November.

The trip was arranged before President Ahmadinejad made the remarks at a conference entitled "A World Without Zionism", on 26 October.

The UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the comments and Mr Annan himself delivered a rare rebuke, saying he was "dismayed" by the remarks.

Israel urged the UN to expel Iran from the world body and called on Mr Annan to cancel his trip.

President Ahmadinejad said he stood by his remarks, while Iran's foreign ministry said the UN statement was "unacceptable".

US Democrat Congressman Tom Lantos, a member of the House International Relations Committee, praised Mr Annan's decision in the light of President Ahmadinejad's "outrageous comments" .

The secretary general will now visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Pakistan.

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