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Obama, Gadhafi , Ahmadinejad Address UN General Assembly


World leaders addressing the U.N. General Assembly underscored issues of domestic and international concern as the annual debate got underway Wednesday in New York.

President Barack Obama laid out his vision for U.S. foreign policy in a wide-ranging address.

He called for a "new era of engagement" among nations, saying the United States cannot solve the world's problems alone and urged other nations to share in the responsibility.

"But make no mistake. This cannot be solely America's endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone. We have sought in word and deed a new era of engagement with the world. And now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges," he said.

He said the United States would withdraw all its troops from Iraq by the end of 2011; continue to support Afghanistan and Pakistan in fighting terrorists; and would continuing working for peace in the Middle East and a nuclear bomb-free world.

Following immediately after President Obama was Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Although he has led Libya for 40 years, this was his first time at the General Assembly, and he made up for lost time, speaking for more than an hour and a half.

Wearing his trademark long sweeping robes, he waved to the crowd and clasped his hands above his head like a prize fighter as he took the podium.

Mr. Gadhafi covered a range of subjects -- not always coherently. Waving a copy of the U.N. Charter, he railed against what he called the inequality of the institution, but then urged a permanent seat on the Security Council for Africa. He also called on former colonial powers to pay $7.77 trillion in reparations to African countries.

He defended the Taliban, gave his thoughts on the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and on the H1N1 influenza pandemic, also known as swine flu.

"Perhaps this swine virus may be one of those viruses that was created in the laboratory and it went out of control because it was meant in the beginning to be used as a military weapon," Mr. Gadhafi said.

In addition to the United States, the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council addressed the General Assembly.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed President Obama's recent decision to abandon Bush-era plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. China's President Hu Jintao warned that the world remains under the impact of the financial crisis and that prospects for an economic recovery are still not clear. While French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a sweeping overhaul of the world's financial system.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose military has suffered heavy casualties recently in Afghanistan, reasserted his commitment to that country.

"I believe a safer Afghanistan means a safer world. But none of us can be safe if we walk away from that country or from our common mission and resolve. NATO and its partners from Australia to Japan and to other countries must agree new ways to implement our strategy, and I believe that we must ensure that 'Afghanization', that the army, the people, the police of Afghanistan assume greater responsibility for the security of their own country," he said.

Meanwhile, the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina expressed their support for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and called for his immediate return to the power.

"The international community demands that Mr. Zelaya immediately return to the presidency of his country," said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Speaking in the evening to a nearly empty room, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a lengthy discourse on religion, humanity, and what he sees as the world's ills - mainly capitalism, Zionism and liberalism. His speech was notable, however, for what it failed to mention - his government's controversial nuclear program.

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