International

U.S., European Diplomats Leave Hall While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Speaks

It has become an annual tradition.

Moments after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his address to the United Nations General Assembly, whole delegations packed up their papers and exited the hall.

U.S. diplomats were followed by representatives of "27 European nations, the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Costa Rica, The New York Times reports.

A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Mark Kornblau, issued this statement:

Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people, Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable.

As Reuters reports, Ahmadinejad spent several minutes advancing conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.

Foreign Policy's The Cable put to rest rumors that Israel's absence during President Obama's speech earlier today was a deliberate act of protest:

The seats assigned to the Israeli delegation were vacant when President Obama delivered his Thursday morning speech to the United Nations, but that was not a snub directed at Obama, an Israeli official tells The Cable.

"It's the religious holiday of Sukkot," the official e-mailed, referring to the Jewish holiday that falls on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, according to the Jewish lunar calendar. Sukkot is the beginning of seven days of festivities centered around the autumn harvest.

We excused ourselves in advance to the U.S. delegation to the U.N. and the administration and explained it is the Jewish Holiday," the official said.

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