NEW YORK — The United Nations announced Wednesday that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend a meeting of non-aligned nations in Iran at the end of this month, despite objections from the United States and Israel.
Ban will visit Tehran to attend the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, a group of 120 countries formed in 1961 that professed no formal alignment with the major power blocs at the time. The meeting this month is expected to include several heads of state, foreign ministers and other officials.
Last week, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the United States is concerned that Iran will manipulate the summit to deflect attention from what she called Tehran's own failings. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly objected to the Secretary-General attending the meeting during a telephone call with Ban.
Despite those objections, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that the secretary-general will attend the summit. Nesirky said Ban will use the opportunity to convey to Iranian officials the concerns and expectations of the international community on various issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.
Nesirky said Ban is aware of the sensitive nature of his visit.
“But at the same time, the secretary-general has responsibilities that he is determined to carry out - both to the non-aligned movement and in relation to Iran - precisely because of the level of international concern about issues that include the country’s nuclear program, human rights and the situation in Syria,” said the spokesman.
Last week, the secretary-general issued a statement indicating that he was “dismayed” by remarks by Iranian leaders threatening Israel’s existence. Nesirky said Ban condemned them as offensive and inflammatory.
“It’s a clear imperative for the Secretary-General to remind Iran in unambiguous terms of its undertaking as a member state of the United Nations to refrain from the threat or use of force against any other state,” he said.
Ban is scheduled to visit Tehran for three days, beginning August 29.