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Walkout drama at UN over Iran's 'vile' 9/11 claims

By David Usborne

The US delegation walked out of the 65th UN General Assembly yesterday in a protest against the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 9/11 comments.

Ahmadinejad repeated speculation that Americans were actually behind the September 11 terror attacks, staged in an attempt to assure Israel's survival.

Mr Ahmadinejad said there were three theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks.

First, that a “powerful and complex terrorist group” penetrated US intelligence and defences, he said.

Second, “that some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime. The majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians agree with this view”.

The Americans stood and walked out without listening to the third theory that the attack was the work of “a terrorist group but the American government supported and took advantage of the situation”.

Mark Kornblau, spokesman of the US Mission to the world body, issued a statement within moments of Mr Ahmadinejad's attack.

“Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people,” he said,

“Mr Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable.”

Earlier, Barack Obama staked his prestige on direct Middle East peace talks, telling world leaders in New York that he wants a permanent agreement finalised within 12 months that “will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel”.

In only his second speech to the UN General Assembly as US President, Mr Obama also told Iran that despite further international sanctions imposed in June because of the country's nuclear enrichment activities, “the door remains open to diplomacy”.

The address, which also covered the world economy and climate change, was a fresh reminder that on the twin issues of Israeli-Palestinian relations and Iran, Mr Obama is facing challenges and opportunities that are likely to define his legacy on the world stage. Direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel finally resumed earlier this month.

Mr Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, now stand on the threshold of a historic breakthrough. But all could fall apart this weekend, as a moratorium set by Mr Netanyahu on new Jewish settlements in the occupied territories is due to expire. If Mr Netanyahu were to allow construction to resume, the talks would probably be over almost as quickly as they started.

With Israeli diplomats absent from the hall because of a Jewish holiday, Mr Obama reiterated that such an outcome should not be allowed to happen.

“Our position on this issue is well-known,” he said. “We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also believe that talks should press on until completed.”

Acknowledging that that there had “few peaks and many valleys” in the past 12 months, since Mr Obama called in the same chamber for an end to enmities in the Middle East, he said it was time to ignore the sceptics.

“We can say that this time will be different — that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way,” he added.

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