"I have no doubt that [Chavez] will return alongside Jesus Christ ... to establish peace and justice in the world," Ahmadinejad said.
The death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has prompted eulogies from around the world, but few of the messages have been as eccentric as the second-coming predicted by Iran's president.
And as if returning to Earth alone was not enough, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad says Chavez will do so alongside some esteemed company.
"I have no doubt that he [Chavez] will return alongside Jesus Christ and the Mahdi [the Hidden Imam] to establish peace and justice in the world," Ahmadinejad wrote in an emotional condolence message posted on his personal website. The Mahdi is a revered figure among Shi'ite Muslims, many of whom believe he will return to save humanity.
Ahmadinejad, who had forged a close public friendship with Chavez, hailed his close ally for "serving the people of Venezuela and defending human and revolutionary values."
Iran has declared a national day of mourning in honor of Chavez's death, and Iranian media has said it was a "possibility" that Ahmadinejad would attend the funeral scheduled for March 8.