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'Not welcome' sign out for Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to come to New York next week to speak at a United Nations conference on nuclear nonproliferation. The US can't really keep him out of the UN, but some are urging hotels to post 'no vacancy' signs.

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Beyond what one may think of the Iranian leader and his policies, even some of his detractors say his last-minute decision to attend the opening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference reflects a certain craftiness.

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The NPT review conference, a twice-a-decade affair, is traditionally attended by country delegations led by foreign ministers or UN ambassadors. Secretary Clinton will lead the US delegation and is scheduled to speak Monday afternoon. But under UN protocol, a head of state trumps other government representatives, so Ahmadinejad will be honored with a speaking slot near the top of the list for Monday’s opening and ahead of other country delegations.

Economic sanctions an issue

The New York visit is also providing Ahmadinejad with the opportunity to declare his openness to dialogue with the West – and to paint US-led efforts to pass new UN sanctions against Iran as the world’s powerful once again pillorying the weak.

The US is doing its best to avoid Ahmadinejad’s trap, with Clinton saying Friday that Iran knows exactly what actions it must take – and not simply what words it must speak – to avoid further isolation by the international community.

Reiterating Clinton’s words at a Washington press conference Friday, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said that instead of “grandstanding” Ahmadinejad would do well to respond to the “serious offers” for resolving the nuclear impasse offered by the US, the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany, the so-called P5+1 group.

“Iran knows what our address is, it’s been the P5+1,” she said. “If Iran has something new to say, it knows where to find us.”


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