UN LEADER in IRAN peace talk about SYRIA and NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The U.N. chief and Egypt's president delivered stinging speeches at a summit of developing nations in Iran on Thursday, damaging the host country's quest for global prestige and support for its nuclear program and its policy on Syria.
The Iranians had to listen while Ban Ki-moon denounced them for calling for Israel's destruction and denying the Holocaust.
Nor did Mohamed Mursi, the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, hold back as he urged Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) members to back Syrians trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Tehran's closest Arab ally.
The United States and Israel had frowned on the decisions by Ban and Mursi to attend the summit.
"I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust," Ban said in his speech, without naming Iran.
"Claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold," he said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and this month called Israel a "cancerous tumor".
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Ban would have conveyed a stronger message by boycotting the NAM summit.
"His going there harmed the message and really sabotaged the efforts, which are so critical today, to stop the illegal Iranian nuclear activity," Ayalon told Israel Radio.
However, Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli expert at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, said Mursi and Ban deserved credit for their blunt remarks in Tehran.
"Mursi's statement on Syriawill be viewed as a serious challenge against Iran's narrative on Syria," he said, adding that Israel should thank Ban for speaking out so clearly.
"In the history of the Islamic Republic, nobody has challenged the supreme leader's (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's) position on Israel in front of him, and in such a manner. This is likely to have long-term reverberations and consequences inside Iran's halls of power."
In his speech, Khamenei criticized the U.N. Security Council as a tool used by the United States "to impose its bullying manner on the world".
"They (Americans) talk of human rights when what they mean is Western interests. They talk of democracy when what they have is military intervention in other countries," he declared.
Khamenei did not mention the conflict in Syria or Iran's staunch support for Assad, who is struggling to crush a 17-month uprising in which more than 18,000 people have been killed.
Mursi, a moderate Egyptian Islamist, said solidarity with the Syrian people "against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty" and a strategic necessity.
"We all have to announce our full solidarity with the struggle of those seeking freedom and justice in Syria, and translate this sympathy into a clear political vision that supports a peaceful transition to a democratic system of rule that reflects the demands of the Syrian people for freedom."
His words prompted Syrian delegates to leave the hall.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said the delegation withdrew "in rejection of the incitement in the speech to continue the shedding of Syrian blood", and returned after Mursi's address was over, Syrian state television reported.
Iran has portrayed its hosting of the high-profile summit as proof that Western efforts to isolate it and punish it economically for its disputed nuclear program have failed.
"Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none," Khamenei told the conference, a day after Ban urged him to prove that Iran's nuclear work is peaceful.
His words will do little to allay Western suspicions that Iran is covertly seeking a nuclear weapons capability.
A report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog this week is likely to voice concern about the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran, to which its inspectors have been denied access.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes Iran has conducted nuclear-related explosives tests at Parchin. Western diplomats say satellite images suggest Iran has cleansed the site, which it says is a conventional military facility.
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