Following the outrage at UN chief Ban Ki-Moon’s visit to Tehran to attend the opening of the Non-Aligned Movement summit, some slightly better news emerges from there to mitigate Ban’s attendance when he issued a stinging rebuke to the Ayatollahs for their anti-Israel threats and Holocaust denial:
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a sharp rebuttal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday, after Khamenei delivered a speech denouncing Israel, the UN and the US at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran.
“I strongly reject any threat by any [UN] member state to destroy another, or outrageous comments to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust,” Ban said.
“Claiming another UN member state does not have the right to exist or describe it in racist terms is not only utterly wrong but undermines the very principles we have all promised to uphold,” the UN chief added.
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters in Iran, accused Israel of being made up of “bloodthirsty wolves,” a day after Ban asked the cleric to tone down his rhetoric against Israel.
Ban also criticised Iran for their miserable human rights record.
The U.N. chief jolted his Iranian hosts for a nonaligned nations meeting Wednesday by pointing out “serious concerns” in Tehran’s human rights record and urging cooperation with the world body to improve freedoms.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had signaled he would not shy away from criticism of Iran during his visit to the Nonaligned Movement gathering in Tehran, but the sharp comments appeared to catch Iranian officials off guard just hours after his arrival.
Ban Ki-Moon also addressed Iran’s nuclear program:
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said in his talks, Ban expressed frustration that “little tangible progress” has been made in talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program. No date has been set to resume negotiations after several rounds over the past months.
It would have been better if Ban had denied Iran any legitimacy by boycotting the event, as we can see from Iran’s remark:
…that the current gathering in Tehran shows that Western efforts to isolate Iran have failed.
In another nasty surprise for the Iranians, Egypt’s new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi publicly slammed Iranian ally Syria’s President Bashar Assad’s regime for its violent repression of the revolution there:
Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi arrived in Tehran on Thursday in the first visit by an Egyptian leader to Iran in decades, using the occasion to call out the Syrian regime.
The Egyptian president is attending a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Iran, which the country is using as a means to bolster its international standing in the face of isolation over its nuclear program.
Iran’s state TV in a live broadcast showed Morsi being received by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the summit conference hall in Tehran.
Morsi denounced former ally Syria over the bloody uprising there, calling the regime of President Bashar Assad “oppressive.”
“We should all express our full support to the struggle of those who are demanding freedom and justice in Syria and translate our sympathies to a clear political vision that supports peaceful transfer [of power] to a democratic system,” Morsi said in his opening statement.
Morsi slammed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule, saying that the world had a “moral duty” to stand with the Syrian people in their struggle “against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy.”
He said having a democratic system in Syria “reflects the desire of the Syrian people for freedom, justice and equality and at the same time protects Syria from entering into a civil war or being divided by sectarian clashes.”
The two countries remain divided over Syria’s crisis. Shiite Iran backs the Damascus regime, while there is widespread sympathy in Egypt for the rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad. Anti-regime fighters have dismissed any role for Iran in a plan they and some others say has little hope of succeeding.
Morsi’s visit was historic, but Egyptians officials have indicated it does not necessarily represent a thaw in relations between the two countries.
Tehran cut diplomatic relations in 1979 because of Egypt’s peace accord with Israel. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has considered Israel as its arch foe.
But in not so good news from Egypt, it is reported:
Morsi arrived in Iran after three days in China, where he made waves Wednesday after announcing his intention to restart Egypt’s nuclear power program, which was initiated by Gamal Abdel Nasser in the early 1960s under Soviet patronage.
Egypt, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, most recently signed an agreement with Russia in 2008 to further develop its nuclear power facilities.
Some proper good news to follow soon.