ABC News' Jake Tapper and Kirit Radia report:
Despite widespread reports of election fraud and myriad protests, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in today as president of Iran.
Asked if the Obama administration recognized Ahmadinejad as the legitimate president of Iran on Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs referred to him as “the elected leader.”
Gibbs’ reference to Ahmadinejad as “elected” rankled many in the Iranian dissident community, and stood in contrast to comments by France’s spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs who, when asked if France recognizes Ahmadinejad as having been reelected, said “France ’s position of principle, in accordance with international law, is to recognize states, not governments.”
On Air Force One today, Gibbs told reporters that he wanted to "correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say it's not for me to pass judgment on. He's been inaugurated, that's a fact. Whether any election was fair, obviously the Iranian people still have questions about that and we'll let them decide that. But I would simply say he's been inaugurated and we know that is simply a fact.:
Asked if the White House recognizes Ahmadinehad as the leader, elected fairly or not, Gibbs said it's not "for us to denote his legitimacy, except to acknowledge the fact."
Does the White House think the election was fair?
"That's not for us to pass judgment on," Gibbs said. "I think that's for the Iranian people to decide, and obviously there are many that still have a lot of questions."
Today in Kenya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of Ahmadinejad, “we don't always get to deal with the government that we want to…We take the reality that the person who was inaugurated today will be considered the president.”
Clinton said Iran's leadership must still address the legitimate complaints about June's elections by a significant part of the population.
"Obviously the United States and many countries, spoke out against the flawed election and all of the irregularities, as well as the response to the legitimate demonstrations and protests of Iranians who did not believe their votes were counted fairly and that the outcome did not reflect in their view the will of the people,” Clinton said. “That ferment, and the foment, is still going on inside of Iran, we saw it today, a number of protesters outside the inaugural ceremonies. It is not abating, and that is for the Iranian people and the authorities to deal with."
Clinton said, "we hope that there will be a recognition by this Iranian government that they need to recognize the rights of the people of Iran. And to make democracy be more than just an election and in fact much more than a flawed election as that last one was.”
–Jake Tapper and Kirit Radia