Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ahmadinejad criticizes UN secretary-general remarks

Updated at: 1709 PST, Thursday, April 23, 2009

TEHRAN: Iran has sent a letter of protest to the U.N. secretary-general for criticizing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's diatribe against Israel at an anti-racism conference this week.

The Iranian president "was subjected to unfair and unwarranted harsh criticism," Iran's Ambassador to the U.N. in New York, Mohammad Khazaee, said in the letter sent late Wednesday to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The U.N. Office in Geneva was unable to immediately comment on the letter early Thursday because it had not received it.

Ban said Monday he deplored "the use of this platform by the Iranian president to accuse, divide and even incite. This is the opposite of what this conference seeks to achieve."

"It is deeply regrettable that my plea to look to the future of unity was not heeded by the Iranian president," Ban said in a statement, adding that he met with Ahmadinejad before the U.N. conference stressing the importance of uniting in the fight against racism.

Ban's comment was a response to Ahmadinejad's denunciation of Israel on the first day of the conference in Geneva, calling it the most "cruel and repressive racist regime." That sparked a walkout by European delegates, and strong condemnations from the U.N., U.S. and several other Western countries.

Iran's ambassador noted that tolerance and freedom of expression were among the basic principles of the world racism conference.

"It is unacceptable, and indeed regrettable, that these very principles were utterly disregarded in the same conference where we witnessed a manifestation of intolerance by some," he said.

Khazaee said the U.N. secretary-general should be impartial and fair, adding that the majority of U.N. member states were concerned about the plight of the Palestinians caused by Israel's policies and practices.

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