Prized Guests Slam Iranian Policies

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وال استریت ژورنال
پنجشنبه ۳۰ اوت

International Conference Seen as Showcase for Tehran Turns Sour as Egypt’sLeader, U.N. Chief Criticize Host’s Stances

BEIRUT—Two of Iran’s honored guests at the official opening of an international conference intended by Tehran to showcase its global stature slammed the Islamic Republic’s policies on Syria, Iran’s top ally in the region, and Israel, its No. 1 foe.
Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, in a speech to the annual meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, which brought leaders of more than 120 nations to Iran, caused a stir by calling Syria’s regime oppressive and devoid of legitimacy.

Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesIran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad greets President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt in Tehran Thursday.

The comment was a direct rebuke to Iran, which is aiding the Syrian leadership in its military crackdown against rebels.

“The bloodshed in Syria is the responsibility of all of us and will not stop until there is real intervention to stop it. The Syrian crisis is bleeding our hearts,” Mr. Morsi said, in his first foreign-policy speech at an international venue.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also blamed Syria’s regime for reacting to peaceful protests with “ruthless force,” and called on the regime to take responsibility for ending the violence.

Syria and Israel make the backbone of Tehran’s foreign policy. Mr. Ban also offered harsh words for Iran’s stand toward Israel. “I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust,” he said in his speech at the conference.

Mr. Ban also called on Iran to cooperate more openly with the international community on its nuclear program and comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. On Wednesday, he criticized Iran’s human-rights record, and brought up the issue in a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sitting nearby during the speeches, frowned as he listened to the speeches by Messrs. Morsi and Ban. Mr. Ahmadinejad has threatened Israel and questioned accounts of the Holocaust.

“We should all express our full support to the struggle of those who are demanding freedom and justice in Syria.”Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi

The conference, which began with meetings on Sunday and closes Friday, offered Iran an opportunity to mend its image as an isolated and sanctioned country. But problems arose once the guests arrived, as Iran tried to script the conference to its own advantage only to have dignitaries stray from its narrative.

Iranian media, which had touted Mr. Morsi’s visit as a diplomatic coup that could signal a shift in improving Egypt-Iran relations, censored his speech. The simultaneous interpreter at the conference first stumbled then refrained from translating Mr. Morsi’s comments on Syria.

Only a few Iranian websites published the full speech. One called Mr. Morsi an “immature and new diplomat.” Iran and Egypt haven’t had diplomatic relations since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

“The bloodshed in Syria is the responsibility of all of us and will not stop until there is real intervention to stop it.’”Mr. Morsi

Syria’s delegation walked out of the conference room during the speech. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, in an interview with Iran’s Arabic news channel Al Alam, said Mr. Morsi had violated the summit’s principles by meddling in another country’s affairs.

Mr. Morsi also praised the four caliphs of Sunni Islam at the start of his speech, an unusual evocation by an Arab leader. Iranians interpreted the comments as a jab at the Islamic Republic, a Shiite theocracy that doesn’t recognize the first three caliphs as legitimate.

Iran now holds the three-year presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was created during the Cold War. Iran used the conference as a platform to promote its policies on Syria, defend its nuclear program, and reach out to countries such as India and South Korea to try to work around the economic sanctions crippling its economy.

“The current order of the world…can’t continue. Everyone is tired of the current international geometry,” Mr. Khamenei said in a speech Thursday. He reiterated that Iran’s nuclear program was for peaceful purposes and that the country would never give up on this right. Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Khamenei had blasted the U.N. Security Council as outdated and a form of dictatorship by the most powerful countries.

“I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust”U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Meanwhile, Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi sought to negotiate oil deals with delegates to the conference, and Minister of Finance Shamsedin Hosseini was dispatched to greet the Indian delegation, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

Many Iranians complained about the government’s spending on the conference.

“I pray to God that this conference isn’t just about meeting and greeting and something useful comes out of it. It would be a big gain for the country and people if the result is easing or removing the sanctions,” said Mahin, 32, a Tehran resident who didn’t give her last name.

That appears unlikely, analysts say. “When the dust settles and the last NAM diplomat has left Tehran, what has changed? Iran remains under a harsh international sanctions regime, foreign investment remains paltry, and its only reliable allies remain the dream team of Venezuela, Syria, and North Korea,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an expert of Iran at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.



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