Defying calls from US and Israel, Ban Ki-Moon plans to visit Iran

Thursday, August 23, 2012
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
[Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider] 
New York: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Iran at the end of the month to take part in the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), according to his Spokesperson.   

Martin Nesirky announced that the Secretary-General will work with the participating Heads of State and Government on issues central to the global agenda including follow-up to the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development, disarmament, conflict prevention, and support for countries in transition.   

He will also, according to the Spokesperson, "use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people," including "Iran's nuclear programme, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria."

Responding to media reports of calls, from Israel and the United States, for Ban to boycott the meeting, Nesirky said the Secretary-General has heard "the views of some of those who suggested he should not go, but at the same time the Secretary-General has responsibilities that he is determined to carry out, both to the non-aligned movement and in relation to Iran."

He added, "His visit is timely and important because of, not despite these major concerns which are shared by the United Nations."                            

Ban's spokesperson said that the UN chief takes seriously his responsibility and that of the United Nations to pursue diplomatic engagement with all of the world body's Member States, in the interest of peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security.  

Commenting on recent remarks threatening Israel's existence attributed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Nesirky said the Secretary-General has "repeatedly called on Iran's officials to refrain from anti-Semitic remarks or holocaust denial, and it's a clear imperative for the Secretary-General to remind Iran in unambiguous terms of its undertaking as a Member State of the United Nations to refrain from threats or use of force against any other state."             

He also said that Ban intends "to discuss frankly the potentially serious consequences of the Syrian crisis and the need for Iran to be part of the solution" and added that "this is certainly a test of Iran's capacity and willingness to play a constructive role regionally."               

Taking place in the capital, Tehran, and under the chairmanship of Iran, the NAM Summit will be held on 29-31 August, and is expected to draw representatives from its 120 members, as well as from various associated observer countries. -Unifeed
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