Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter via his Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to Pope Benedict on Wednesday about the U.N. Security Council's decision to enact sanctions against Iran's nuclear program, reported The Associated Press. The Vatican did not release details about the letter, but Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said the focus was on the Security Council's vote to approve sanctions against Tehran.
The United Nations Security Council on Christmas Eve decided to impose a set of sanctions against Iran in response to its uranium-enrichment activities. For months the Council negotiated with Tehran about its nuclear program. Countries including the United States are concern Iran's nuclear program is aimed at making nuclear weapons, which Iran claims is for producing energy.
The Vatican emphasized that Pope Benedict's brief meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister was apolitical.
The Pope "reaffirmed the role that the Holy See intends to carry out for world peace, not as a political authority but as a religious and moral one...so that people's problems will always be solved in dialogue, mutual understanding and peace," said a Vatican statement.
Iran's meeting with the Pope is the latest in a series of contact and reference to Christianity. Earlier this week, the Iranian state media outlet referred to Jesus Christ, Christian believers and Christmas in its response to the nuclear sanctions.
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), described by many as the mouthpiece of the conservative Iranian government, published on Tuesday an editorial whose headline says the U.N.'s decision to enforce sanction against Iran has "ruined Merry Christmas."
"On the eve of the auspicious birthday of Jesus Christ when all Muslim and Christian believers extend best wishes to each other on the onset of the new year, leaders of Christian states took an unacceptable action toward Iranians by passing a resolution against national nuclear program which surprised every individual in Iran," stated the IRIB editorial.
The IRIB editorial resonates Ahmadinejad's controversial Christmas greeting to Christians worldwide. The greeting troubled some Christian leaders because of the link between Jesus and Islam's Holy Prophet Imam Mahdi and for the intention behind the greeting.
"The rhetoric is no more than a maniacal manipulation of truth to further his political agenda," the Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick, Christian Solidarity International Washington representative, had declared in response to Ahmadinejad's greeting.
Tehran responded to the sanction by authorizing the government to limit the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) access to its atomic sites on Wednesday.