The UN Secretary General says he “deplores” the comments made by the Iranian leader on Israel. France and Britain are also among other countries who have condemned them.
Earlier, Ban Ki-moon had expressed strong disappointment at the non-attendance of many Western nations.
He told the meeting that “we dream of moving in a new direction, yet too many of us cling to the past”.
“Some nations, who by rights should be helping to forge a path to a better future, are not here,” he said. “Outside these halls, interest groups of many political and ideological stripes shout against one another in acrimony. They too should be with us talking.”
At the opening of the conference, dancers from the University of Kwazulu-Natal performed a dance that symbolises tolerance and respect for others.