UN chief: Radicals fostering tensions

SECRETARY-GENERAL Ban Ki-Moon railed yesterday against radicals fostering tensions between the Western and Islamic worlds, saying the international community should stand together against those seeking to demonise “the other”.

“Let us acknowledge that we live in a world where the smallest group can inflict large damage,” Ban said. “That damage can be multiplied by loose language in politics and beyond.”

He was addressing a meeting of the Alliance of Civilisations, an initiative aimed at combating extremism through dialogue between different cultures and religions.

“Let us stand against those who seek to demonise the other,” he told the grouping that met on the sidelines of the annual summit of world leaders at the United Nations.

Ban’s speech came a day after US President Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traded accusations about their nations’ nuclear programmes.

Still, both left the door open to further negotiations about the nuclear impasse.

In his speech on Thursday to the annual summit of world leaders, Ahmadinejad also raised the possibility that “some segments within the US government” had orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York – a statement that prompted members of the American delegation to walk out in protest from the UN General Assembly.

Delegations from all 27 European Union nations followed the Americans out along with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Costa Rica, an EU diplomat said.

Iran is expected to remain high on the agenda of the General Assembly’s session.

In remarks prepared for delivery last night, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was to tell the assembly that he had been ready to welcome progress during this week’s meeting of the six powers trying to get Iran back to the negotiating table – the US, UN, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.

“An issue of grave global concern has been overshadowed by the bizarre, offensive and attention-grabbing pronouncements by President Ahmadinejad from this podium yesterday. His remarks were intended to distract attention from Iran’s obligations and to generate media headlines. They deserve to do neither,” Clegg said in the remarks.

The UN Security Council has passed four rounds of increasingly restrictive economic sanctions aimed at compelling Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and return to negotiations on its suspect nuclear program. Iran denies it is trying to build a nuclear weapon, saying its programme is meant only for peaceful purposes such as electricity generation.

In his speech to the General Assembly on Thursday, Ahmadinejad noted that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty allows all signatory nations to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Still, Ahmadinejad emphasised that Tehran was prepared to negotiate with the United States, UN, European Union, and other representatives of the international community, “based on justice and respect.”


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