Romney urges UN to bar Iranian president

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BOSTON, Sep 17 (Reuters) US Republican candidate Mitt Romney urged the United Nations today to revoke an invitation for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak next week, and said the Iranian leader should be indicted for war crimes.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the former Massachusetts governor said Washington should reconsider support for the world body if Ahmadinejad addresses the UN General Assembly on September 25, as scheduled.

''The Iranian regime under President Ahmadinejad has spoken openly about wiping Israel off the map, has fueled Hezbollah's terror campaign in the region and around the world, and defied the world community in its pursuit of nuclear weapons,'' Romney wrote in the one-page letter.

''If President Ahmadinejad sets foot in the United States, he should be handed an indictment under the Genocide Convention,'' Romney said.

Romney, a multimillionaire former venture capitalist, trails rivals former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and actor-turned-senator-turned actor Fred Thompson in national polls. But he leads in the key early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire where he has outspent other candidates.

UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said she was unaware of Romney's letter.

Yesterday, Ahmadinejad challenged US President George W Bush to a debate on global issues at the summit and condemned US policies in West Asia, including Iraq, according to an interview on Iranian state television.

REUTERS RC BST0042

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