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UN Chief To Attend Nonaligned Summit In Tehran

  • RFE/RL

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The United Nations has confirmed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to attend a summit of nonaligned countries in Tehran next week.

Both the United States and Israel have called on the UN chief to stay away from the event.

"The secretary-general is obviously fully aware of the sensitivities of this visit and also he's heard the views of some of those who have suggested he should not go," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said. "But, at the same time, the secretary-general has responsibilities that he is determined to carry out -- both to the Nonaligned Movement and in relation to Iran."

The UN said Ban "will use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community" about Iran's nuclear program, terrorism, human rights, and the crisis in Syria.

Ban plans to be in Tehran from August 29-31.

According to Israeli media reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Ban he would be making a "big mistake" if took part in the event.

The United States also has made clear it would also like the UN chief to boycott the summit of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM). U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it would be "strange" for Ban to participate.

Iran is in a showdown with Western powers over its controversial nuclear program. Tehran also is accused of supplying weapons to the Syrian regime, and Iranian leaders face condemnation for their anti-Israeli rhetoric.

"[Ban's] visit is timely and important because of, not despite, these major concerns, which are shared by the United Nations," Nesirky said. "And while there, the secretary-general can speak on behalf of the entire international community to make clear directly to the Iranian leadership what the world expects from Tehran."

Touted By Tehran

Iran says the leaders of 30 countries -- including India, Egypt, and Cuba -- are expected to attend the summit, while more than 100 countries are preparing to send representatives.

North Korea announced on August 23 that its nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, would attend and would meet with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Kim Jong Un rules the internationally isolated country, but Kim Yong Nam represents North Korea in most high-level diplomatic affairs. Iranian and North Korean officials have previously said that the countries are in "one trench" in the fight against the United States and the West. They are suspected of being close partners in nuclear and missile technologies.

Iranian officials present the summit as evidence that Iran is not internationally isolated. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has said the event will be "the greatest political summit in Iran's history."


With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP

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