UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Tehran today to attend the sixteenth NAM summit.
A spokesman for the Secretary General announced yesterday that Iran’s nuclear program, the Syrian conflict and human rights in Iran will be topics which the UN chief will discuss with Iranian officials in Tehran.
According to New York TImes Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, hinted at the possibility that “Mr. Ban would seek to meet with opposition political figures in Iran whose movements and communications have been largely restricted since the authorities crushed protests that followed the disputed election of the conservative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to a second term in June 2009.”
Haq said the Secretary General is planning to “convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people.”
Ban Ki-moon’s plan to attend the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran has not been welcomed by U.S. and Israeli officials.
The New York Times reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called Ban to dissuade him from attending the meeting.
Four hundred Iranian activists have signed a petition addressed to the UN Secretary General that urges him to use his Tehran visit to address the Islamic Republic’s human rights record and call for in-person meeting with Iranian opposition leaders MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been under house arrest for more than 18 months.
Fahran Haq replied to a question about the petition, saying: “It’s clear that when he goes there, he will reiterate his concern that the overall human rights situation in Iran remains critical. Iran has an obligation under international law to protect freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression and allow greater space for media activists, human rights defenders and political activists.”
Iranian media report that today Ban Ki-moon will attend a luncheon hosted by Iran’s head of parliament, Ali Larijani adding that he is also scheduled to meet Iran’s Supreme Leader during this trip.