Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press conference at Mehrabad Airport prior to departure from Teheran

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Tehran (Iran), 31 August 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As my visit draws to a close, I want to thank the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran for their warmth and hospitality.

I came to Tehran to take part in the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which provided world leaders an opportunity to come together and address pressing global issues. It also gave me a chance to raise my own views.

I also came to Iran to engage in a dialogue and frank exchange with the Iranian leadership.

Over the past three days, I met with the Supreme Leader, the President, the Foreign Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament and the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.

Yesterday, I also had the privilege of addressing students and scholars at the Institute of International Relations.

In addition, I had a number of productive bilateral meetings with leaders attending the NAM Summit, including today with Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqui and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem of Syria.

I reiterated my demand for all sides to cease all forms of violence, with the primary responsibility resting on the Government to halt its use of heavy weaponry.

I also expressed my deep concerns about the humanitarian situation. More than 2.5 million people are now in grave need of assistance and protection inside the country. We need to expand the number of humanitarian organizations with which the international community can work.

I also urged strong support for the critical mission of Joint UN and Arab League Special Representative Lakdhar Brahimi.

I also had a very good meeting today with President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine. I share the President’s frustrations with the current standstill in the Middle East peace process and agreed with him on finding a way forward. All members of the Quartet regard President Abbas as a real partner for peace and stand ready to fully support his efforts.

And, of course, the world is looking to Tehran to ease tensions and find a negotiated, diplomatic settlement on the nuclear issue.
I have been clear in all my discussions, public and private.

I have urged the Government of Iran to take concrete steps to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

A report circulated today by the International Atomic Energy Agency finds that Iran has yet to reach agreement on a plan to resolve all outstanding issues.

I have also spoken out on the protection of basic freedoms and human rights -- which is even more crucial in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. I encouraged authorities to cooperate more closely with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Iran.

I have condemned threats by any Member State to destroy or delegitimize another.

And I have reminded leaders here – and indeed throughout the region – to lower the volume and stop the provocation that can lead this area down a slippery slope of conflict.

It is time for more reason and responsibility. I urge all concerned to resolve differences through peaceful means.

As I have repeatedly said during my visit, assuming the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement provides Iran with the opportunity to demonstrate that it can play a moderate and constructive role internationally.

Iran has enriched and nourished human civilization for centuries. As a founding member of the United Nations, Iran has also greatly contributed to our own work through creative initiatives such as the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free-zone and the Dialogue of Civilizations.

Iran has also played a positive role in assisting the people of Afghanistan during a very turbulent time. This includes hosting and protecting millions Afghan refugees.

There is important work to build upon and many challenges to meet.

I conclude this visit strengthened in my conviction in dialogue and diplomacy.

Through dialogue and diplomacy, I expect Iran to contribute meaningfully to our global agenda and to regional and international peace and security.

That is why I came to Tehran. I leave here mindful of the challenges, but also satisfied that we have conveyed the messages that simply must be aired at this critical time.

Thank you - merci.