Iran: Iranian president suffering from exhaustion

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fallen sick from exhaustion but the illness is not as serious as political opponents suggest, an Ahmadinejad ally told Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The president will eventually fully recover and will continue with his work, but the shame of this thing will be left forever for some people," Mohammad Esmail Kowsari said in the IRNA report.

The rumor that Ahmadinejad is seriously ill "is an old ploy aimed at influencing the elections" which are set for next June, Kowsari -- a member of Iran's parliament -- was quoted as saying.

Kowsari called it "psychological warfare" aimed at creating division among fundamentalists who make up Ahmadinejad's political base.

Another IRNA report said President Ahmadinejad missed several events in recent days because of his illness.

It quoted Mansour Borghei, an official at the president's office, saying Ahmadinejad "was
The Associated Press reported that the Iranian president, who turns 53 on Monday, attended a religious ceremony Saturday in Tehran, though he looked tired as he greeted supporters.

On Sunday, state TV also showed him receiving credentials of three foreign ambassadors, AP said.

The next few months are viewed as critical for Ahmadinejad if he wants to try to rebuild his political base and rebut critics who point to his unfulfilled campaign promises, including extending Iran's oil revenues to poorer provinces around the country.

Criticism over his management of the country -- at a time when the country's unemployment rate is sitting at around ten percent -- has increasingly come from his conservative supporters.

Ahmadinejad is also confronting questions about his defiant stance with the West over Iran's nuclear program, which has severely soured international relations.

The U.N. has also placed three rounds of sanctions against Iran since Ahmadinejad took office in 2005 over Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment