Iran’s nuclear ambitions issue “closed”

While addressing the session of the 62nd UN General Assembly in New York, Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the issue of his country's nuclear ambitions was “closed”. He added it was now simply a matter for the International Atomic E

Prior to the session, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a speech to college students.

The visit of the Iranian President to Columbia University proved controversial, triggering some street protests.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been denied the chance to visit Ground Zero during his visit to New York.

During his speech at the University, the Iranian President questioned the official version of the attacks on September 11 and commented on his denial of the Holocaust.

“Given this historical event, if it is a reality, we need to still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not. After all, it happened in Europe. The Palestinians had no role to play in it,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated.

The speech is the first of the two opportunities given to Ahmadinejad to have his say during his visit to New York.

George W. Bush
George W. Bush
Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush has announced new sanctions against the military dictatorship in Myanmar. Speaking at the opening meeting of the UN General Assembly, Bush urged other nations “to stand up for people suffering under dictatorship”.

He also added that in countries like Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran “brutal regimes” deny their people fundamental human rights.

“Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under dictatorship. In countries like Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people fundamental rights enshrined in the universal declaration,” announced President Bush.

It came as a surprise because many of people were anticipating that he would talk about Iran and he barely touched upon that.

It is worth mentioning that the U.S. Congress has just approved a bill that would tighten sanctions against Iran. However, t bill has to be approved by President Bush to come into force.
Also on Tuesday, President Bush held talks with Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki and took part in a roundtable discussion on Iraq.

Russian FM up to his neck in talks
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held talks with his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in New York on the possible waiving of visa restrictions for Russians travelling to Israel. The FM has given the go-ahead for official discussions on permit-free travel between the two countries. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Lavrov's talks with Livni were part of a hectic schedule for the Foreign Minister in New York. He took part in fifteen international and bilateral meetings in one day at the United Nations, among them bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Albania and Syria.

Mr Lavrov was also supposed to have a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Georgia, but it was cancelled.

“The meeting was scheduled for today. Three hours before it was supposed to start the Georgian side said Gela Bezhuashvili was not able to take part in it because he was busy with the President of Georgia on his programme in New York. He did not suggest any alternative time. Of course, we are worried about that. If the Georgian side wants to avoid an unpleasant discussion of those events that have been taking place recently in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, this does not do them credit,” stressed Sergey Lavrov. 

However the most anticipated talks were those with his Israeli counterpart on visas. 

“We discussed bilateral relations, and one of the outcomes is that we agreed to start negotiations on waiving visa requirements for our citizens,” said Sergey Lavrov.

Israel hopes that the absence of paperwork will boost the number of Russian tourists threefold within three years. This could total as many as a quarter of a million people a year.

Also, with a large Russian-speaking population living in Israel, visa-free travel would be a plus for people in both countries.

Talks with the Foreign Minister of Syria were also on Lavrov’s agenda on Tuesday. Syria is interested in solving its main territorial issue, the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, a plateau which was taken by Israel in the 1967 war. The region has been under Israeli control ever since. Syria wants the issue addressed within the framework of an overall Middle East settlement. Russia agrees, saying only a comprehensive settlement could have a lasting effect in the Middle East.
On Friday the Russian FM will be addressing the General Assembly of the UN.