France has led a walkout of delegations, including Australia, to protest a fiery speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the UN General Assembly.
“It is disappointing that Mr Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric,” Mark Kornblau, spokesman to the US mission to the United Nations, said in a statement.
Delegations from Argentina, Australia, Britain, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand and the United States left the room as Ahmadinejad began to rail against Israel, a European source said.
Israel had already called for a boycott of the speech, and was not present when the Iranian leader began his address.
Canada had already said it would heed the boycott call.
In his address, Ahmadinejad again took aim at Israel without mentioning the country or Jews by name, referring only to the “Zionist regime”.
The firebrand leader, re-elected in disputed June elections, accused Israel of “inhumane policies in Palestine”.
“How can the crimes of the occupiers against defenceless women and children … be supported unconditionally by certain governments,” Ahmadinejad asked.
“And at the same time, the oppressed men and women be subject to genocide and heaviest economic blockade being denied their basic needs, food, water and medicine?”