UNITED NATIONS, Nov 12: United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said on Tuesday that the world body should ban defamation of all religions and disagreed that such a move would impinge upon freedom of speech.

“Yes, I believe that defamation of religion should be banned,” he said in response to a question at a press conference to highlight the interfaith conference at the UN headquarters. No one should try to defame Islam or any other religion, he said, adding: “We should respect all religions.”

Mr D’Escoto, a former Nicaraguan foreign minister who himself is a priest, said that religion was a very divisive subject and that’s why the meeting would concentrate on common ethical values to make a common front against hunger, ignorance and disease.

“People talk about bailing out the Wall Street when, in fact, humanity needs to be bailed out,” he added.

He rejected a correspondent’s suggestion that the meeting was aimed at forging an Arab-Israeli front against the growing influence of Iran and said: “What we are only trying to do is to forge a front against ignorance, hunger and disease.”

Asked to comment on reports that US military forces had used secret authority to conduct previously undisclosed attacks on Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Syria and elsewhere since 2004, he said such strikes were violation of the UN Charter. Nations must respect others’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, Mr D’Escoto said, adding that such acts even amounted to be acts of aggression.

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