United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon left New York around midday on Tuesday, 28 August, and arrived in Iran early in the afternoon of Wednesday, 29 August, after a change of planes in Dubai.
Upon arrival in Tehran, the Secretary-General headed directly to the Parliament Palace, where he held talks with Ali Ardashir Larijani, the Speaker of Parliament. Before continuing talks over lunch, the Secretary-General and the Speaker spoke to reporters. The Secretary-General said now that Iran is taking the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement, it would give Iran and her people a very important opportunity to play a very moderate and constructive role working together with the United Nations and other international community members in addressing many global and regional challenges. He said he believed that Iran has a crucially important role in addressing regional issues. He also said he had been discussing a wide range of topics with the Speaker, including human rights and Iran’s nuclear programme.
After meeting the President, the Secretary-General met the Supreme Leader, Imam Ali Khamenei.
He later met separately with Saeed Jalili, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, a meeting that continued over a dinner in honour of the Secretary-General.
In all these meetings, the Secretary-General conveyed the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people. These include Iran’s nuclear programme, human rights and the crisis in Syria. He also made clear to relevant interlocutors the concerns of the international community about human rights in Iran.
On the morning of Thursday, 30 August, the Secretary-General attended the Non‑Aligned Movement Summit. In his speech to the Summit, the Secretary-General said the Non-Aligned Movement was crucial for the smooth working of the United Nations, including on vital areas such as sustainable development, peace and security, and human rights. He said that by assuming the leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement, Iran had the opportunity to demonstrate that it can play a moderate and constructive role internationally. The Secretary-General urged the Iranian Government to take the necessary measures to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. (See Press Release SG/SM/14481)
On Syria, the Secretary-General told the Summit that the crisis in Syria started with peaceful demonstrations that were met by ruthless force. He said we now face the grim risk of long-term civil war. He also said that those who provide arms to either side are contributing to the misery. The Secretary-General said he strongly rejected threats by any Member State to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust.
On the margins of the Summit, the Secretary-General met a number of visiting leaders. They included Kim Yong-nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Aliakbar Salehi, the Iranian Foreign Minister; the President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsy; the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré; and the Prime Minister of Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai.
Next, the Secretary-General visited the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s School of International Relations. In his remarks at the School, he said many human rights challenges remain in Iran. He said it was especially important for the voices of Iran’s people to be heard during next year’s presidential election. He said that was why he had urged the authorities during his visit to release opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and social activists to create the conditions for free expression and open debate. The Secretary-General answered a series of questions from students and academics. (See Press Release SG/SM/14483)
That evening, the Secretary-General attended an official dinner for the leaders attending the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, hosted by the President of Iran.
On the morning of Friday, 31 August, the Secretary-General first met with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, and they discussed developments in Syria at some length. He then met United Nations staff working in Iran.
After that, the Secretary-General met the President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia.
The Secretary-General also met Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, to discuss recent developments in the Middle East. The Secretary-General underscored the Quartet’s support for Mr. Abbas.
After a meeting with the United Nations country team, the Secretary-General met Wael Nader al-Halqui and Walid al-Moualem, respectively the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Syria. He reiterated that violence must stop on all sides and that the flow of weapons to both sides should also be halted. He also urged Syria to allow a greater number of humanitarian partners to operate in the country so that aid can reach those who desperately need it.
Before leaving Tehran, the Secretary-General spoke to reporters about his visit and his participation in the Non-Aligned Movement Summit. He said he was concluding his visit strengthened in his conviction in dialogue and diplomacy. The Secretary-General said he was leaving mindful of the challenges, but also satisfied that he had conveyed the messages that simply must be aired at this critical time. He said he had spoken out about human rights and protecting basic freedoms and about the international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme.
The Secretary-General arrived back in New York on the morning of Saturday, 1 September, after a stopover in Dubai and an overnight flight.