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      Defying Israel and US, UN's Ban Ki-Moon Confirms Trip to Tehran

      UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend Iran for NAM summit, defying objections from Israel, US and Jewish groups to boycott the event.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 8/23/2012, 1:14 PM

      U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
      U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
      Reuters

      United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit next week, defying objections from Israel, the United States and Jewish groups worldwide to boycott the event.

      A statement issued by his office said Ban “looks forward” to the summit and working with the visiting leaders, “including the host country,” in an effort to reach “solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda.”

      Taking place in the capital, Tehran, and under the chairmanship of Iran, the NAM Summit will be held on 26-31 August, and is expected to draw representatives from its 120 members, as well as from various associated observer countries.

      Ban’s spokesperson said that the UN chief takes “seriously” his responsibility and that of the United Nations to pursue diplomatic engagement with all member states, “in the interest of peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security.”

      “With respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary-General will 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,” the spokesperson said. “These include Iran’s nuclear programme, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.”

      His decision to attend the conference comes just days after he condemned the regime’s “offensive and inflammatory” remarks about Israel.

      “The secretary-general is dismayed by the remarks threatening Israel’s existence attributed over the last two days to the supreme leader and the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the UN press office said over the weekend.

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged Ban to refrain from attending the summit saying it would be a “horrible mistake.”

      “Mr. Secretary-General, your place is not in Tehran,” Netanyahu told Ban.

      On Monday US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also called on Ban to boycott the conference saying, “Iran is going to try to manipulate this NAM summit and the attendees to advance its own agenda, and to obscure the fact that it is failing to live up to multiple obligations that it has to the UN Security Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international bodies.”

      David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, issued a statement saying “we are stunned” that Ban “would honor a regime that consistently ignores both him and the world body he heads in ways that threaten regional and global security.”

      The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called the secretary-general’s decision an "undeserved gift" to Iran that could be seen as rewarding the regime's belligerence on the nuclear issue and escalating anti-Israel, anti-American, and anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement.

      In a letter dated August 8, the ADL urged Ban Ki-moon to decline  the invitation, saying, "Your presence in the Iranian capital at this time will be counterproductive to the efforts of the international community to bring Iran into compliance with its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions."