The US State Department, after hearing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say Osama bin Laden was in Washington, joked Wednesday it found no trace of him despite a thorough search.
“We’ve done an intensive search here at the Department of State — every nook and cranny, every rock — and we can safely report that Osama bin Laden is not here,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.
“You mean Greater Washington, or you just looked at the State Department?” a reporter asked as he played along with the joke from Crowley, the spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Just the confines of the State Department, but it was reported by the president of Iran that he’s here in Washington. That’s news to us,” Crowley said before turning to the news of the day.
“And thank you for laughing,” he said, smiling broadly.
In an interview earlier with ABC television, Ahmadinejad denied recent press reports that Osama bin Laden is in Tehran and insisted that the Al-Qaeda leader is, in fact, in the US capital.
“Rest assured that he’s in Washington. I think there’s a high chance he’s there,” the Iranian leader said.
Without backing up the claim, the Iranian leader said he had “heard” the bin Laden was in the US capital.
“Yes, I did. He’s there. Because he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush,” he said referring to former president George W. Bush.