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Page last updated at 07:08 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 08:08 UK

Iran leader cancels Africa visit

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivering a speech in Tehran, 27 June
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was officially returned for a second term

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cancelled his trip to an African Union summit in Libya, officials in Tehran say.

Mr Ahmadinejad's office did not give any reason for the decision.

His visit would have been one of his first major public appearances abroad since his re-election in Iran's disputed poll last month.

The opposition has staged mass protests, saying the poll was rigged. The authorities deny the claim.

Some 17 people are thought to have died during opposition street rallies.

On Monday, Iran's top electoral body, the Guardian Council, confirmed Mr Ahmadinejad's victory after a partial recount.

His main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has said the whole election should be annulled and held again.

On Wednesday, another defeated candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, said Mr Ahmadinejad's government was illegitimate.

The BBC's Rana Jawad in Libya says some African Union officials had feared that Mr Ahmadinejad's appearance at the three-day summit could have overshadowed the African issues on the agenda.

These include:

• the request from Somalia's embattled transitional government for military support to fight hardline Islamists

• Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's plans for a "United States of Africa" with a single currency and army

• ways of boosting investment in agriculture and improving food security across Africa.

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has also cancelled his plans to go to the summit following a train crash on Monday, which killed at least 14 people.



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