United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend the summit of the Nonaligned Movement of mainly developing countries in Tehran next week despite strong opposition from Israel and Jewish groups outraged at Iran’s calls for the destruction of Israel.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban will participate in the Aug. 29-31 summit because he is determined to carry out his responsibilities to the 120-member organization and to raise directly with Iran’s leaders the threat to Israel’s existence, which violates the U.N. Charter’s requirement that member states refrain from threatening other states.
Ban also plans to convey the international community’s expectations that Iran make urgent progress on issues including the country’s controversial nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria, Nesirky said.
He said Ban is “fully aware of the sensitivities” of the visit, but not going “would be a missed opportunity.”
The Nonaligned Movement was founded in Belgrade in 1961 at the height of the Cold War by countries that considered themselves independent of the main power blocs at the time led by the Soviet Union and the United States. It has grown over the past 50 years and Iran was elected as NAM’s current chair, replacing Egypt.
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he called Ban and warned him that traveling to Iran “would be a horrible mistake.”
Jewish organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, B’Nai B’rith International, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, also urged Ban not to go.