WASHINGTON — White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "the elected leader" of the Islamic republic.
Gibbs was asked Tuesday if the White House recognized Ahmadinejad as the country's legitimate president.
"He's the elected leader," Gibbs responded.
Iranian opposition to Ahmadinejad's re-election claimed he stole the vote, and there have been massive street demonstrations that have shaken the religious leadership of the country. Ahmadinejad reports to the religious establishment. Dozens of demonstrators were killed or wounded in the uprising.
President Barack Obama has been cautious in responding to the turmoil because he's trying to open a dialogue with Iran about its nuclear program.