Russia's foreign minister has proposed the creation of a new European security pact, saying existing mechanisms failed when tested during the Caucasus crisis. Sergei Lavrov was one of several world leaders who addressed the U.N. General Assembly's annual debate during a special Saturday session. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
Sergei Lavrov said the crisis that erupted in August between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia demonstrated that new security mechanisms are needed to provide equal security for all states.
Mr. Larov went to on to state, "it is a process involving all participants who would reaffirm their commitment to fundamental principles of the international law, such as non-use of force and peaceful settlement of disputes, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs, and inadmissibility of strengthening one's own security by infringing upon the security of others."
He said such a treaty should fit naturally into the legal framework of the U.N. Charter and its principles of collective security.
On the subject of the military conflict between Russia and Georgia he said, "this problem has now been closed" because Moscow has recognized the independence of the two pro-Russian breakaway provinces. "The recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia was the only possible measure to ensure their security and the very survival of their peoples," he continued.
Lavrov also said the implementation of the peace agreement negotiated by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France would help stabilize the situation.
The United States and some European countries consider Russia in violation of that agreement because the Russians have not entirely withdrawn to their pre-conflict positions.
Also speaking Saturday was Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov. He called the Caucasus crisis "worrisome" and said simmering regional conflicts endanger peace and security.
"The Georgian case has also proved that the protracted conflicts existing in the Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova (GUAM) area, including the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, remain a major source of instability and a fragile cease-fire regime cannot be a substitute for a lasting and durable peace in the region," Mr' Mammadyarov stated.
North Korea's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pak Kil Yon told the delegates that denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is President Kim Il Sung's "lifetime instruction" and that Pyongyang has honored its commitments under the Six Party Talks.
But in August, North Korea stopped work to disable its main Yongbyon nuclear reactor, saying the United States had not honored its promise to remove it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. He said, "this is little short of admitting that the list is not related to terrorism in actuality."
Washington says it will remove North Korea as soon as it agrees to a verification program.
Also Saturday, the Assembly heard from ministers from the Arab countries of Egypt, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.
In a statement that was circulated but not read at the General Assembly, Saudi Arabia spoke of its grave concern over the global financial crisis and called for effective action to re-stabilize markets. But the world's largest oil producer did not mention rising fuel prices that have caused a global crisis.
The annual debate concludes on Monday, when diplomats from South Africa, Jordan, Ethiopia and Nigeria are among those scheduled to speak.