U.N.: Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks; many diplomats walk out


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REPORTING FROM THE UNITED NATIONS -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday denounced the United States and its European allies from the U.N. General Assembly podium as arms-wielding colonialist oppressors who were wrecking the world economy, prompting a walkout by dozens of diplomats.

Ahmadinejad, speaking in an annual appearance at the opening of the General Assembly’s new session, described the United States and its allies as the sources of misery going back centuries. He said they were responsible for suffering resulting from slavery, world wars, atomic attacks and the current economic breakdown.


These “slave masters and colonial masters have caused widespread misery and disorder,” Ahmadinejad said, adding: “Do they have the competence to run the world?”

The remarks prompted the departure of diplomats from the United States, European countries and some other nations. Others, including Canadian diplomats, had decided not to show up at all for the Iranian’s speech, which was one of a series of speeches by world leaders to the body.

But other U.S. allies, such as officials of the Iraqi government, remained in their places seated next to the Iranian delegation and clapped politely when Ahmadinejad concluded his half-hour-long remarks.

Ahmadinejad has conducted a series of media interviews in recent days to draw attention to his visit, as he has done every year recently. His appearance has brought protests, and calls from some members of Congress that he be barred from visiting the United States. Yet he spoke at a time when his power appears to be ebbing at home, and his appearance has been largely overshadowed by the preoccupying subject of the week -- the Palestinian Authority’s bid for recognition by the U.N. Security Council.

Ahmadinejad, who was dressed in a dark suit and white open-collared shirt, had no comment on that subject.



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-- Paul Richter