GENEVA (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted a rare walk-out at the United Nations on Monday when he called Israel a "cruel and repressive racist regime" in his remarks to a conference on race.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the address which prompted dozens of delegates to leave their seats, further undermining the summit which some Western powers including the United States are boycotting.
"It was a very troubling experience for me as secretary-general," he told a news conference at the day's end. "I have not seen, experienced, this kind of disruptive proceedings of the assembly, the conference, by any one member state. It was a totally unacceptable situation."
Washington announced on Saturday it would sit out the Geneva forum on fears it would be dominated by unfair criticism against Israel. Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands then followed suit.
Their boycott left Ahmadinejad, who has in the past cast doubt on the Nazi Holocaust, in the spotlight as the only head of state at the conference.
His speech produced exactly the kind of language that they feared, which had also caused Canada and Israel to announce months ago they would stay away.
"Following World War Two they resorted to military aggressions to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering," Ahmadinejad told the conference, on the day that Jewish communities commemorate the Holocaust.
"And they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine," he said, according to the official translation.
"And in fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine."
Ahmadinejad prompts walkout from U.N. racism summit | Reuters