UNITED NATIONS, March 17, 2009 (AFP) - UN General Assembly president Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a harsh critic of US foreign policy under president George W. Bush, accused Washington on Tuesday of demonizing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I don't think anyone can doubt that in our part of the world, Ahmadinejad has been demonized," the former Nicaraguan foreign minister said as he briefed reporters on his recent foreign tour, including a stop in Iran where he attended a regional economic summit.
"The United States has been in the business of the demonization of people for ever and the canonization of the worst of dictators," he added, referring to the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos, Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza and Chile's Augusto Pinochet.
The hardline Ahmadinejad has come under fire in the West over his country's refusal to scale back its nuclear ambitions and for suggesting that Israel should be wiped off the map.
But d'Escoto, a US-born former priest, said he was struck during his visit to Tehran earlier this month by the "great respect" Iran enjoys from its neighbors for sheltering 3.5 million Afghan refugees.
D'Escoto, who served as foreign minister under Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government from 1979 to 1990, has often been harshly critical of US and Israeli policies -- particularly the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- since he took over as General Assembly president seven months ago.
He has consequently been accused by US and Israeli diplomats here of being a divisive figure.
"As president of the General Assembly, his responsibility is to unite and lead rather than living out his personal agenda," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
D'Escoto visited Bahrain, China, Finland, Iran, Syria and Switzerland during a recent three-week tour aimed at promoting the holding of an international conference on the global financial crisis from June 1 to 4.