The United States Secret Service will accompany Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Ground Zero if he ultimately decides to go to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, sources in the New York City government and United States Secret Service said.
His aides made the request in early September, police officials said, and it was rejected.
As a result of speculation that President Ahmadinejad might still have an interest in visiting the area surrounding the site, the New York City Police Department issued a statement saying it would also oppose such a visit.
According to that statement, "A request earlier this month to permit a visit by Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Ground Zero during the United Nations General Assembly was rejected in a meeting which included NYPD, Secret Service, and Port Authority officials."
"The site is closed to visitors because of construction there. That was the only request," Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne said. "Requests for the Iranian president to visit the immediate area would also be opposed by the NYPD on security grounds."
Officials said that as far as they were aware, that was the only request for a site visit made by the Iranian president.
Ahmadinejad -- and other extremely high-risk protectees -- have a security detail only slightly less extensive than that of the United States president, sources say. It includes heavily armored limos, NYPD bomb technicians and emergency service personnel. A large Secret Service protective detail and NYPD Highway Patrol units lead the way.
While the city opposes the proposed visit Iran's president was determined to make it, the United States Secret Service is required to accompany him.
"We do not comment on itineraries," Michael Seremetis, a spokesperson for the United States Secret Service, said.