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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Criticizes Sanctions Against his Country


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Debate is continuing for a third day Friday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, with more than 20 world leaders scheduled to speak.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was Friday's first speaker, and he accused Western nations of imposing "illegal sanctions" on his country.

Mr. Mugabe said foreign powers had been working "strenuously" to divide parties in what he called Zimbabwe's "inclusive" government. He called on Western governments to stop what he said were their "filthy," "clandestine" and "divisive" practices. He did not name specific countries.

In February, Mr. Mugabe entered into a unity government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a former opposition leader. Mr. Tsvangirai has accused politicians loyal to Mr. Mugabe of continuing to violate laws and ignore international treaties.

Later Friday, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told the assembly that "foreign elements" had joined the ranks of rebels who are trying to overthrow his government.

The Somali leader said his government is determined to continue political dialogue, which he said is open to all parties in the country - including rebels. However, he said the "rebels believe only in firepower."

Insurgent groups have been trying to topple Somalia's fragile government and set up an Islamic state. The groups control much of southern Somalia, including large parts of the capital, Mogadishu.

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has also addressed the world body. He said the Ivory Coast is working to free itself from debt, which he said has "cast a cloud" over the country's goals.

Mr. Gbagbo also said many "small, fragile" African countries are overburdened with debt as a result of foreign loans taken out between the 1960s and 1980s. He called on world powers to help African countries reduce debt.

Madagascar's Andry Rajoelina and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga are among the other African leaders scheduled to address the General Assembly Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke Thursday. Mr. Netanyahu said Iran poses a threat to world peace, and that its "fanatic" regime should not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

Mr. Chavez called on U.S. President Barack Obama to lift the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. He also called for the removal of U.S. troops from Colombia's military bases, saying the arrangement is a threat to peace in South America.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi denounced the U.N. Security Council, defended the Taliban, and critiqued historic events during a rambling, 96-minute speech.

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.

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