UN’s Ban to attend Iran summit, over US, Israeli requests

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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will attend a conference in Tehran next week, over the objections of Israel and the United States, his spokesman said Wednesday.

“In Tehran, Ban will raise Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria,” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky told journalists at the UN Wednesday.

Ban will visit Iran for three days, August 29-31, to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, Nesirky said. He will also hold discussions with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Some 30 leaders are expected to attend the 16th NAM summit, including Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.The non-aligned movement is a Cold War legacy, comprised of some 120 countries that were ostensibly independent of the US or Soviet blocs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly lobbied Ban to reject the invitation, in an effort to signal Iran’s growing isolation over its nuclear program. The State Department more recently also encouraged Ban to skip the meeting, though its protests seemed a bit pro forma. (US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, now traveling in India, also had urged Ban not to go, InnerCityPress reported.)

Ban “was fully aware of the sensitivities, and fully aware of the responsibilities” in choosing to attend the meeting, Nesirky said Wednesday, the New York Times reported.

Whatever diplomatic victory Iran may claim from Ban’s RSVP, his discussions with Iranian leaders are likely to be tense.  P5+1 negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have made little progress, and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency is due to issue a new report on Iran’s nuclear program at the end of the month.

A firm date has not yet been finalized for an anticipated phone call between chief international nuclear negotiator, EU High Rep Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Saeed Jalili, to discuss how to proceed, a European Union spokesperson told Al Monitor Wednesday.

Meantime, a top UN official said Wednesday that there are signs Iran is arming Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime, in violation of a Security Council resolution banning Iran arms exports.

“The Secretary-General has repeatedly expressed his concern about the arms flows to the two parties in Syria, which in some cases appear to violate resolution 1747 passed by this council banning arms exports under Chapter 7 authority,” U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told the U.N. Security Council, Reuters reported.

(Photo: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Podorica July 22, 2012. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic.)

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  1. Pingback: Former top US diplomat Jeff Feltman meets with Iran’s Supreme Leader | The Back Channel

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