UN delegates walk out over Iran′s anti-Israel speech | World| Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 24.09.2009
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UN delegates walk out over Iran's anti-Israel speech

While US President Barack Obama used his first address to the UN General Assembly to promote greater global cooperation, a speech by Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused many delegations to walk out.

Ahmadinejad addresses the general assembly

Ahmadinejad's speech led several delegates to walk out

Obama said the time had come for the world to move in a "new direction," to focus on what brings countries together rather than what divides them, adding that all nations had a shared responsibility.

"After all, it is easy to walk up to this podium and to point fingers and stoke division," Obama told the UN General Assembly. "Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions."

He urged the delegates from more than one hundred countries to embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect, and stressed that the work should begin immediately.

Voices of dissent

But Obama's calls for an "era of new engagement" suffered their first knock later in the evening when Iran's Ahmadinejad took to the podium and launched an attack on Israel, which he referred to as the "Zionist regime."

Obama addresses the general assembly

Obama called for greater global cooperation

He asked how the "crimes of the occupiers against defenseless women and children could be supported unconditionally by certain governments?" And went on to accuse Jews of seeking to "establish a new form of slavery and harm the reputation of other nations to attain its racist ambitions."

Israel had called for a boycott of the address before the summit, and was not present during its delivery. Canada had already agreed to the boycott and 11 delegations including those from Britain, France, Germany and the US, left the room while the Iranian leader spoke.

In a statement, spokesman to the US mission to the United Nations said "it is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to sepouse hateful, an offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric."

A French diplomat told the AFP newsagency that the address was "unacceptable."

No nuclear talk

Ahmadinejad, who peppered his speech with references to Islam and the role of religion, made no reference to his country's nuclear activities.

Earlier, Obama spoke of the importance of nuclear disarmament as one of the "guiding principles" of international cooperation. He urged world leaders to hold both North Korea and Iran to account for their nuclear programs.

A nuclear reactor in Iran

The world wants to know the truth about Iran's nuclear aspirations

"In their actions to date, the governments of North Korea and Iran threaten to take us down this dangerous slope," Obama said. "The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced."

In meetings with Obama on the fringe of the summit, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev demonstrated a hardening in attitude towards Tehran when he said sanctions could be inevitable if the Iranian leader failed to open about Iran's nuclear program.

Foreign ministers from the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany also met in preparation for key talks with Iranian officials on October 1st. In a statement the ministers said they expected a "serious response" from Tehran and would decide on their next steps after the meeting.

tkw/dpa/AFP/Reuters
Editor: Trinity Hartman

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