'Oppressor': US to boycott tribute to Iran leader Raisi

The United States will boycott a United Nations tribute to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash, a US official says.

The 193-member UN General Assembly traditionally meets to pay tribute to any world leader who was a sitting head of state at the time of their death earlier in May. The tribute will feature speeches about Raisi.

"We won't attend this event in any capacity," a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. The US boycott has not previously been reported.

Raisi, a hardliner who had been seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed when his helicopter came down in poor weather in mountains near the Azerbaijan border on May 19.

"The United Nations should be standing with the people of Iran, not memorialising their decades-long oppressor," said the US official. "Raisi was involved in numerous, horrific human rights abuses, including the extrajudicial killings of thousands of political prisoners in 1988."

"Some of the worst human rights abuses on record, especially against the women and girls of Iran, took place during his tenure," the official said.

The UN Security Council stood at the beginning of an unrelated meeting for a moment of silence on May 20 to remember the victims of the helicopter crash. Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood reluctantly stood with his 14 counterparts.

The United States expressed its "official condolences" for Raisi's death, the State Department said on May 20. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby also said that day: "No question this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands."

US President Joe Biden's administration was strongly criticised by some Republican members of Congress for offering condolences to Iran.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021 and in office ordered a tightening of morality laws, oversaw a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.