Ban Ki Moon to visit Iran despite US and Israeli opposition


United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon speaks during a news conference after the UN Security Council held consultations regarding the UN Supervision Mission in Syria on June 7, 2012 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.


Andrew Burton

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will visit Iran next week, despite opposition from the United States and Israel. 

Ban will attend a summit of non-aligned developing nations that will run from August 26th through 31st.

The move comes even as the US and Israel sought to dissuade the UN leader from visiting Iran: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even placed a call to Ban asking him not to go, the New York Times reported

"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," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said, UPI reported. "These include Iran's nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria."

Ban also pointed out that two-thirds of all UN member states are non-aligned nations, and he has a formal responsibility as Secretary General to "pursue diplomatic engagement with all ... (UN) member states in the interest of peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security," Reuters reported

Tensions surrounding Iran have escalated in recent months as the country remains defiant on key issues, including ignoring UN Security Resolutions to stop its uranium enrichment and continuing to support the Syrian government’s sharp repression of its own people, the Times reported. 

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Iran's leaders also repeatedly call for the destruction of Israel and deny the Holocaust. 

The US voiced its disappointment with Ban's decision to attend the Iranian summit on Wednesday, calling Iran a "destabilizing force" that violates many UN rules. 

"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," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, Reuters reported. 

The American Jewish Committee also said it was "deeply disappointed" with Ban. 

However, the UN Secretary General is often faced with "damned if he does, damned if he doesn't" scenarios, as New York Times' Rendezvous blogger Harvey Morris and others pointed out. 

"When faced with a choice of offending the Non-Aligned Movement and its Iranian host or President Obama and Israel, Secretary General Ban picked the lesser of two evils from his point of view," Commentary Magazine's Jonathan S. Tobin wrote

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