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Iran delegates quit COP28 over Israel presence


By AFP
Published : 01 Dec 2023 07:51 PM

Iranian delegates walked out of UN climate talks in the United Arab Emirates on Friday in protest over the presence of Israeli representatives, state media reported.

The Iranian side considered Israel's presence at COP28 "as contrary to the goals and guidelines of the conference and, in protest, it left the conference venue", said Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian, who headed the Iranian delegation, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.

The move came only hours after a seven-day truce between Israel and Hamas expired and hostilities between the two resumed in Gaza, following the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

IRNA had said late Thursday that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi would not take part in the talks and Mehrabian would instead attend the summit.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries are under pressure to step up efforts to limit global warming at COP28, but the Israel-Hamas conflict now in its eighth week is casting a shadow over the summit.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan had invited Raisi to attend COP28 during talks with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in June, IRNA said.

But the Iranian president had decided not to attend "due to the invitation of the Zionist regime (Israel) officials", the news agency said.

In a phone call with his UAE counterpart, Amir-Abdollahian said "the presence... of Israel in this meeting deserves serious consideration" in light of its alleged "war crimes and genocide".

Under the cover of a barrage of rockets, Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border with Israel on October 7 and, according to Israeli officials, killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 240 hostages.

The Hamas government in Gaza says Israel's bombing campaign and ground

invasion since the attack have killed more than 15,000 people in the besieged

Palestinian territory, also mostly civilians.