In a demonstration of his unwillingness to bend to the will of Israel and its most vociferous international ally, the United States, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has decided to attend a summit meeting of “non-aligned developing nations” in Iran next week.
Israel and the U.S. strongly urged Ban to boycott the Iran meeting, but he feels it’s important that he goes. The meeting in Tehran takes place Aug. 29-31 and it will consist of 120 non-aligned nations, which refers to the nations who consider themselves independent of an alliance with any super powers. The non-aligned nations are currently led by the president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. Their last summit was three years ago in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Most of the members of the non-aligned movement, which was started about 50 years ago by leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, tend to be non-white countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Middle East.
“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,” said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky. “These include Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.”
Nesirky said Ban is “fully aware of the sensitivities” connected to his visit, but he is also aware of his responsibilities as head of the United Nations.
Nesirky pointed out that the non-aligned nations comprise two-thirds of all U.N. member states.
Ban must “pursue diplomatic engagement with all … (U.N.) member states in the interest of peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security,” Nesirky said.
Nesirky said the U.N. head was looking to have “meaningful and fruitful discussions” with many Iranian leaders, such as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other top members of the Iranian government.
A U.N. Security Council diplomat privately told Reuters that it was important for the secretary-general to not turn his back on the entire non-aligned movement because one member, Iran, happens to have a president who doubts the Holocaust and questions Israel’s right to exist.
Envoys said Ban will raise the issue of the Iran nuclear program while he is there. While Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, Western powers and their allies fear it is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran has received four rounds of sanctions from the U.N. Security Council for refusing to halt its nuclear enrichment program.
But the U.S. is displeased with Ban’s decision.
“Iran is going to manipulate this opportunity and the attendees to try to deflect attention from its own failings,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. “This is a country that is in violation of all kinds of U.N. obligations and has been a destabilizing force.”
“We hope that those who have chosen to attend, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, will make very strong points to those Iranians that they meet about their international obligations,” she added.