* Ban to attend non-aligned summit in Iran - U.N.
* U.S., Israel had urged Ban to boycott Tehran summit
* U.N. chief to raise concerns about Iran nuclear work,
* Ban hopes to meet with Iran's supreme leader, president
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 22 U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon will attend a summit meeting of leaders of
non-aligned developing nations in Iran next week, defying calls
from the United States and Israel to boycott the event, a U.N.
spokesman said on Wednesday.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that Ban will
be in Tehran Aug. 29-31 for a meeting of some 120 non-aligned
nations, and for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials.
"With respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the
Secretary-General will use the opportunity to convey the clear
concerns and expectations of the international community," he
said. "These include Iran's nuclear program, terrorism, human
rights and the crisis in Syria."
Ban is "fully aware of the sensitivities" linked to his
visit, but he is also aware of his responsibilities as head of
the United Nations, Nesirky said.
He noted that non-aligned nations comprise two-thirds of all
U.N. member states.
One of Ban's responsibilities is "to pursue diplomatic
engagement with all ... (U.N.) member states in the interest of
peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security,"
He added that Ban hoped to have "meaningful and fruitful
discussions" with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other top members of the
A U.N. Security Council diplomat said privately that it was
important for the secretary-general to go. He said Ban should
not turn his back on the entire non-aligned movement because one
member, Iran, happens to have a president who doubts the
Holocaust and questions Israel's right to exist.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but Western
powers and their allies fear it is aimed at developing atomic
weapons. Ban will raise this issue and Iranian leaders'
anti-Israel remarks at bilateral meetings with Iranian officials
on the sidelines of the non-aligned summit, envoys said.
Iran has been hit with four rounds of U.N. Security Council
sanctions for refusing to halt its nuclear enrichment program.
The Tehran summit, which Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi
also will attend, takes place Sunday through Friday. Mursi is
the first Egyptian head of state to visit Tehran since the 1979
BAN CRITICIZES IRAN FOR ANTI-ISRAEL REMARKS
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu urged Ban to cancel his plans to participate in the
Tehran summit, according to Israeli media.
Washington made clear last week that it also wants the U.N.
chief to boycott the event, and on Wednesday the U.S. State
Department reiterated its misgivings.
"Iran is going to manipulate this opportunity and the
attendees to try to deflect attention from its own failings,"
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
"This is a country that is in violation of all kinds of U.N.
obligations and has been a destabilizing force," she said.
"We hope that those who have chosen to attend, including
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, will make very strong points
to those Iranians that they meet about their international
obligations," she added.
The American Jewish Committee, an influential Jewish
advocacy group, issued a statement on Wednesday saying it was
"deeply disappointed" with Ban's decision to go.
Last week Ban sharply criticized Khamenei and Ahmadinejad,
describing their latest verbal attacks on Israel as "offensive
Ahmadinejad said there was no place for the Jewish state in
a future Middle East, echoing remarks he has made about Israel.
He has also repeatedly called into question the Nazi
extermination of Jews during World War Two - the Holocaust.
Khamenei said last week that Israel would one day be
returned to the Palestinian nation and cease to exist.
Earlier on Wednesday, the United Nations said Iran appears
to be supplying Syria with weapons, as the 17-month conflict
that began as a popular uprising against Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad slides deeper into civil war.
Separately, Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran's U.N.
mission in New York, defended the Tehran summit in a letter to
the editor in The Washington Post. He was responding to an
editorial in the newspaper that said Ban's presence in Tehran
"will dignify a bacchanal of nonsense."
Miryousefi said the Post's editorial board "unjustifiably
smeared Iran and mocked the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement summit