President Ahmadinejad thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his stance in condemning a plan which he said “hurt the hearts of millions of Muslims”.

The letter was delivered to the pontiff by the Iranian Vice President, Mohammad Reza Mirtajodini, and a copy of it is on the president’s website.

Mr Ahmadinejad also called for “a close co-operation of divine religions to restrict destructive moves such as ignoring of religious teachings, influencing people to be materialistic, which were eroding human societies”.