The 61st General Assembly of the United Nations opens today in New York – and the stage is set for a high stakes ideological battle for control of the direction of international politics. George Bush wants Iran to face a clear threat of sanctions over its nuclear ambitions and is expected to call on the UN to “stand up for peace” at the conference of world leaders, the last General Assembly that Koffi Annan will host before retiring.
The White House refused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s offer to debate head to head with Bush on the nuclear issue – but Ahmadinejad will nevertheless take the floor to present Teheran’s case. He’s expected to reaffirm that Iran is developing nuclear technology for its domestic energy needs only. Also high on the agenda will be the continuing conflict in Darfour and the search for a breakthrough in the Palestinian conflict, following the recent war in Lebanon.