Canada to Boycott Ahmadinejad at U.N., Unclear if U.S. Will Join

Canada will reportedly boycott Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at the United Nations Wednesday in protest of his anti-Israel comments and repeated Holocaust denials.

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon and other Canadian delegates will vacate their seats at the U.N. General Assembly's annual debate in New York when the Iranian president approaches the podium, the National Post said, citing an unidentified Canadian official.

"President Ahmadinejad's repeated denial of the Holocaust and his anti-Israel comments run counter to the values of the U.N. General Assembly, and they're shameful," the official told the newspaper. "He uses his public appearances to provoke the international community, and that is why Canada's seats will be empty."

U.S. State Department Noel Clay told he knew of no plans to boycott Ahmadinejad's speech before the 192-member chamber.

"I can't predict what [Ahmadinejad] is going to say," said Clay, adding that the State Department had no additional information on the matter.

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Calls to the office of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, were not returned early Wednesday. Attempts to reach a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations were not successful.

At least two other nations -- Israel and Germany -- are prepared to follow Canada's lead when Admadinejad speaks, albeit under certain conditions.

"We're not going to boycott the speech in the sense that no one will be there when he speaks," Katharine Ahrendts, a spokeswoman for the German Mission to the United Nations, told "But if Ahmadinejad should say something controversial, or deny the Holocaust or make anti-Semitic remarks, then the German delegation will walk out."

Israeli officials on Tuesday urged all delegates to leave the chamber when the Iranian president reaches the podium.

"A few days ago he gave a speech of hate," Gabriela Shalev, Israeli ambassador to the U.N., told Israeli army radio. "The simple fact of leaving the room during his speech, or not to be present during it, is a symbolic act."

Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to speak during Wednesday's afternoon session, evoked fresh criticism the day before when he threatened to "cut off [the] hands" of any nation that dared to challenge the Islamic regime.

"If anybody wants to shoot a bullet at us from anywhere, we will cut off his hands," Ahmadinejad said.

He also sparked outrage last week when he repeated his assertion that the Holocaust was a "myth," later adding that the reaction he garnered was a "source of pride." He also called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Earlier this year, Ahmadinejad reportedly smiled as European diplomats fled a U.N. summit to fight racism in protest of his opening remarks.

Ahmadinejad, who spoke as Israelis prepared to commemorate the Holocaust in April, described Jews and Israel's creation as the "ugly face" of a Western conspiracy.

"They sent migrants from Europe, the United States in order to establish a racist government in the occupied Palestine," Ahmadinejad said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "The word Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuses religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces."

EU diplomats walked out when Ahmadinejad claimed that the "pretext of Jewish suffering," a reference to the Holocaust, had been used to create Israel, the paper reported.

United States, Israel, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand reportedly boycotted the conference because of fears that Ahmadinejad would use the event to equate Zionism with racism.

British and other EU officials, meanwhile, attended the conference but walked out following the Iranian leader's attack on Western support for Israel's "totally racist" policy in Gaza.

The U.N. meeting, held in Geneva, was designed to review global efforts to fight racism since the first World Conference Against Racism held in South Africa in 2001.