TEHRAN — Making his first visit to Iran as UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon met with four members of Iran’s hierarchy on Wednesday, including the supreme leader, sessions that Ban’s spokesman described as ‘‘very serious meetings’’ that addressed his concerns about the disputed Iranian nuclear program, the Syria conflict, human rights problems in Iran, and what he called objectionable comments about Israel.
Iran’s state media, which have described Ban’s visit as a repudiation of US and Israeli efforts to isolate Iran, also reported on the meetings but framed them differently, focusing on Ban’s gratitude for the invitation, their shared goal of resolving the Syrian conflict, and Iran’s complaints about big-power meddling in Syria — a reference to efforts by the United States and its allies to topple President Bashar Assad, a strategic ally of Iran.
Iranian accounts did not mention Ban’s criticism of Iran’s human rights record or the comments about Israel by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and others, who refer to Israel as the Zionist entity and have described it as a cancerous tumor that should be eradicated. Iranian leaders have frequently denounced Israel’s threats to attack Iran.
The competing accounts of Ban’s visit came on the first day of a three-day visit to the Nonaligned Movement’s annual meeting, which Iran is hosting as president until 2015 under a three-year presidential rotation system in the 120-member group, the biggest single bloc in the 193-member General Assembly. Ban decided to attend the meeting despite calls by the United States and Israel to boycott it because Iran is the host.
Ban’s exact itinerary has not been disclosed, and confusion quickly arose upon his arrival here over whether, and when, he would speak directly to the foreign media here. Iranian officials said he would give a news conference before he departs Friday.
‘These have been very serious meetings and . . . detailed meetings.’
Martin Nesirky, Ban’s chief spokesman, told reporters that Ban had detailed and extensive meetings with the Parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, followed by Ahmadinajed, Khamenei, and Saeed Jalili, who is the highest ranking national security official. Jalili has been the main negotiator in Iran’s nuclear dispute with the so-called P5-plus-1 powers — the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.
Ban expressed regret that little progress had been achieved since the talks resumed in April, and he told his hosts Iran ‘‘needed to take concrete steps and prove to the world its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes,’’ Nesirky said. Iran has denied Western and Israeli accusations that its uranium enrichment program is a cover to develop nuclear weapons.
Nesirky said Ban told Ahmadinejad that ‘‘the human rights situation in Iran remains a source of concern.’’ And in his meetings with the president and supreme leader, the spokesman said, Ban ‘‘strongly objected to recent remarks from Iranian officials denying the Holocaust and Israel’s right to exist. Such remarks should be condemned by all.’’
On Syria, Nesirky said, Ban expressed opposition to further militarization of the conflict and had asked Iranian leaders to use their influence on the Syrian government to halt the violence. Ban also told his hosts that Iran ‘‘has an important role to play and be part of a solution here,’’ Nesirky said. He declined to specify whether Ban had reiterated in private to the Iranians his public demand that Assad resign.
At the Nonaligned conference, Syria was being discussed behind closed doors.
According to diplomats requesting anonymity who were present in the meeting, the Syrian deputy foreign minister, Ramzi Ezzodin, gave a fiery speech, attacking Turkey and saying the country had opened its borders for terrorists who wanted to enter Syria.
Iran proposed to form a committee in which Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, and Lebanon would try to find a solution for the Syrian crisis, an influential member of Parliament was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.