September 18, 2007 / 5:21 AM / 12 years ago

Romney urges U.N. to bar Iranian president

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the opening ceremony for the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity in Tehran, September 3, 2007. Republican candidate Mitt Romney urged the United Nations on Monday to revoke an invitation for Ahmadinejad to speak next week, and said the Iranian leader should be indicted for war crimes. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican candidate Mitt Romney urged the United Nations on Monday to revoke an invitation for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak next week, and said the Iranian leader should be indicted for war crimes.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the former Massachusetts governor said Washington should reconsider support for the world body if Ahmadinejad addresses the U.N. General Assembly on September 25, as scheduled.

“The Iranian regime under President Ahmadinejad has spoken openly about wiping Israel off the map, has fueled Hezbollah’s terror campaign in the region and around the world, and defied the world community in its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Romney wrote in the one-page letter.

“If President Ahmadinejad sets foot in the United States, he should be handed an indictment under the Genocide Convention,” Romney said.

Romney, a multimillionaire former venture capitalist, trails rivals former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and actor-turned-senator-turned actor Fred Thompson in national polls. But he leads in the key early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire where he has outspent other candidates.

U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said the letter had been received by the secretary-general but made no further comment. However, it is U.N. practice that all members are allowed to address the General Assembly.

On Sunday, Ahmadinejad challenged U.S. President George W. Bush to a debate on global issues at the summit and condemned U.S. policies in the Middle East, including Iraq, according to an interview on Iranian state television.

Reporting by Jason Szep in Boston and Patrick Worsnip at the United Nations

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