BEIRUT: U.N. official Jeffrey Feltman denied Monday reports published by a local media that he criticized Saudi Arabia’s government, saying they were fabricated.
“Feltman utterly rejects the article citing his alleged views which appeared in Al Akhbar on 12 October 2013,” a statement by his office said.
“The quotes in the article were fabricated, and do not reflect [U.N.] Under-Secretary-General [for Political Affairs] Feltman's views,” it added.
Al-Akhbar quoted Feltman, in an article published Saturday, as telling his visitors at the margins of the U.N. General Assembly last week that Saudi Arabia was the “worst government.”
The report quoted Feltman as saying that Riyadh “went crazy over the Iranian-American rapprochement to the point that Foreign Affairs Minister Saud al-Faysal rejected to deliver a speech at the Assembly and did not even distribute copies to the attendees.”
Al-Akhbar, a long-time critic of Feltman, also quoted the former U.S. ambassador to Beirut as saying that Saudi Arabia did not want a government to be formed in Lebanon and that it was "disrupting everything" in the country.
The U.N. statement Monday said the quotes were not confirmed with the U.N. prior to their publications.
“In reality, the United Nations - and Under-Secretary-General Feltman as head of its Department of Political Affairs - works closely with Saudi officials on a number of topics, from the transition in Yemen to counter-terrorism and beyond,” it said.
“The United Nations highly appreciates the role the Kingdom plays on these issues, and greatly values the long standing support of the Saudi government for the work of the United Nations in the region.”
Feltman is a controversial figure in Lebanese politics and has been heavily criticized by the Hezbollah-lead March 8 group particularly when he served as a U.S. envoy between 2004 and 2008.