UN General Assembly opens with rhetorical appeals by both Bush and Ahmadinejad

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The UN General Assembly convened with 192-member nations in New York City.

During the opening day of the 61st annual UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Iranian President Ahmadinejad used his address to challenge the effectiveness of the UN Security Council.

"Can a council in which they [the United States and Britain] are privileged members address their violations? Has this ever happened?" President Ahmadinejad asked the assembly. "In fact we have repeatedly seen the reverse."

"The persistence of some hegemonic powers in imposing their exclusionist policies on international decision making mechanisms, including the Security Council, has resulted in a growing mistrust in global public opinion, undermining the credibility and effectiveness of this most universal system of collective security," President Ahmadinejad said.

The US President Bush address earlier on Tuesday spoke both to the assembly and the world Islamic population.

"Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed — it must be chosen. From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom. And the nations gathered in this chamber must make a choice, as well: Will we support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the Middle East — or will we yield the future to the terrorists and extremists?" President Bush asked.

"My country desires peace. Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror," said President Bush. "We must seek stability through a free and just Middle East where the extremists are marginalized by millions of citizens in control of their own destinies."

"To the people of Iran," President Bush said, "You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons."

President Ahmadinejad was not present for the mid-afternoon address by President Bush. Ahmadinejad also did not attend the UN's traditional banquet for visiting presidents, princes and prime ministers, where dignitaries have a chance to mix informally, because alcohol (the consumption of which is forbidden in Islam) was served at the banquet. The banquet this year was held in honor of UN Secretary Kofi Anan, who will step down after two consecutive 5-year terms ending December 31.