"It was entirely inappropriate for this map to be used. It can be misconstrued to suggest that the United Nations tacitly supports the abolition of the state of Israel," Bolton said.
"Given that we now have a world leader pursuing nuclear weapons who is calling for the state of Israel to be 'wiped off the map,' the issue has even greater salience," he said in a January 3 letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Friday. The letter was first reported in the New York Sun.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said in October the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map," has denied pursuing nuclear arms.
Annan at the time expressed dismay about the Iranian leader's comment and later canceled a planned trip to Tehran.
'Very unfortunate impression'
Bolton's letter complained about the symbolism of Annan attending the latest International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held last November 29, along with General Assembly President Jan Eliasson and Russian Ambassador Andrei Denisov, the Security Council president for November.
He questioned whether the United Nations could promote the event when U.S. law prohibits funding such events. Washington's dues cover
Annan's office was preparing a response to the letter, U.N. chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
He said the secretary-general was grateful that Bolton and others had brought the matter to his attention and had raised the matter of the map with the General Assembly's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which stages the annual event.
It was not Annan but the committee that decided in 1981 to display the pre-1948 map at the annual event, he said.
"This gives a very unfortunate impression that the United Nations favors replacing Israel by a single Palestinian state, which is not the case," he said, stressing that Annan regularly describes Israel as a full U.N. member and strongly disapproved of the Iranian president's comments.
The United Nations is a member of the quartet of international mediators pursuing a road map to Middle East peace along with the United States, European Union and Russia.