Iran accuses Israel of abusing U.N. interfaith meeting

Iran Materials 14 November 2008 04:33 (UTC +04:00)

Iran's U.N. envoy on Thursday accused Israel of abusing a Saudi-sponsored U.N. interfaith conference for political purposes and suggested the Jewish state had no right to take part, Reuters reported.

Speaking on the second day of the meeting, which earlier heard U.S. President George W. Bush call for worldwide religious freedom, Iran's U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee did not name Israel but left no doubt what country he had in mind.

"The representative of a regime (whose) short history is marked with ... aggression, occupation, assassination, state terrorism, and torture against the Palestinian people, under the pretext of a false interpretation of a divine religion, has tried to abuse this meeting for its narrow political purposes," he said.

Khazaee was referring to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who took the rare opportunity of being in the same room as Saudi King Abdullah on Wednesday to praise a Saudi peace initiative that he said had brought hope to the Middle East.

"The participation of such a regime not only has no benefit to our common purpose, but, as proved in this very meeting, will give them a chance to try to disrupt the current process divert our attention from our mandate" to improve dialogue between different religions, Khazaee said.

Iran believes the Jewish state has no right to exist and opposes peace talks. Israel considers Iran an existential threat and, together with the United States and other countries, accuses it of developing nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge.

Khazaee's speech stood out at the two-day meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, convened at the request of the Saudi monarch, not only because of its accusatory language but because it failed to praise Abdullah.

Earlier, Bush proclaimed religious freedom as the foundation of a healthy society and defended the U.S. record in protecting Muslims caught up in foreign conflicts.