UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to attend a high-level U.N. meeting next week aimed at reviving stalled global disarmament talks, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.
That meeting, scheduled for September 24 during the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders in New York, follows 12 years of inaction at the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum in Geneva.
“The schedule has not been firmly set, but I understand he (Ahmadinejad) is going to participate in the high-level meeting on disarmament,” Ban told reporters during a monthly news conference.
He added that he had received a request from Ahmadinejad for a bilateral meeting while the Iranian president is in town.
A U.S. official told Reuters in Washington that President Barack Obama would probably not attend the disarmament talks, since he will be participating in a U.N. summit meeting on Sudan and other meetings that same day.
It was not immediately clear who will be representing the United States. Invitations went to all 192 U.N. member states to send delegates at ministerial or higher levels, U.N. officials said in July.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Tehran for refusing to suspend sensitive parts of a nuclear program that the United States, its allies and a number of other countries suspect is aimed at developing weapons.
Iran rejects the allegations and refuses to halt its uranium enrichment program. It has repeatedly accused the United States, Britain and France, which have atomic weapons, of double standards for allowing Israel to have nuclear arms while banning the bomb for other countries.
Israel neither confirms nor denies having atomic weapons, but analysts say it has a sizable nuclear arsenal.
Ahmadinejad has previously used high-profile U.N. meetings to attack the United States, Israel and their European allies for what he says is an attempt to deny developing countries access to nuclear technology on the pretext of preventing arms proliferation.
The 65-nation U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament, created in 1978 and based in Geneva, negotiated biological and chemical weapons conventions but has been unable to carry out substantive work since 1998 because members could not agree on priorities.
A key proposed task has been to negotiate a halt to production of nuclear bomb-making fissile material but that has been blocked by Pakistan, which says it would put it at a permanent disadvantage to rival India.
Additional reporting by Ross Colvin in Washington; Editing by Vicki Allen