The annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly is full of ceremony, pomp and circumstance, and sometimes, awkwardness. World leaders journey to New York, and are given a podium to make often fiery, nasty, or just bizarre remarks. Here's a look at some of the most awkward events to take place during the organization's yearly meeting.
1960: Khrushchev Bangs His Shoe
In 1960, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the USSR's delegate desk in response to a speech by the Philippines' delegate. In that speech, the Soviet Union was accused of having "swallowed up" Eastern Europe.— PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES(AFP/Getty Images)
1960: Castro Badmouths Kennedy
Before Kennedy was even elected president, and two years before the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuban President Fidel Castro was already on the attack. In a marathon 4.5-hour-long speech, Castro said, "Were Kennedy not a millionaire, illiterate, and ignorant, then he would obviously understand that you cannot revolt against the peasants."— PHOTO: OFF/AFP/GETTY IMAGES(OFF/AFP/Getty Images)
2006: Chavez: Bush Left a Smell of Sulfur
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, addressing the U.N. General Assembly, called then-President George W. Bush the devil. "The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said. "And it smells of sulfur still today." In 2009, after President Obama took office, Chavez followed up. "It doesn't smell like sulfur anymore."
— PHOTO: STEPHEN CHERNIN/GETTY IMAGES(Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
2007: No Gays In Iran
While in New York City for the 2007 General Assembly meeting, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled uptown to Columbia University to deliver a speech. The university's president, Lee Bollinger, gave a nasty, awkward introduction, calling Ahmadinejad "a petty and cruel dictator." Later, when asked about gays, Ahmadinejad said, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you we have that."
— PHOTO: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES(SPENCER PLATT/AFP/Getty Images)
2009: Qadaffi Rambles
Controversy surrounding Libya's then-leader Muammar el-Qadaffi's visit to the 2009 General Assembly began months before, because no one would provide space for him to pitch the tent that he would stay in. Qadaffi addressed—or really, rambled–to the General Assembly for 100 minutes, well over time limits. He spoke from notes scribbled on a yellow legal pad.
— PHOTO: STAN HONDA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES(STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)