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China, Ukraine, Zimbabwe Among Leaders to Speak at UNGA

  • VOA News

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2016.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2016.

The second day of the U.N. General Assembly annual meeting kicked off Wednesday with speeches from leaders of China, Japan, Ukraine, the European Union, Afghanistan and Pakistan, among others.

Forty-two leaders are to speak at the 71st General Assembly meeting in New York by the end of the day.

U.N. Secretary General Ban ki Moon cited the day as the International Day of Peace, calling on warring parties around the world to observe a 24-hour cease fire.

Chinese Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang spoke during the morning session, stating China is committed to peace and opening "its door even wider to the outside world".

UNGA: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

UNGA: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

But on the topic of the disputed South China Sea, Li said China encouraged more discussion, and that it is and has always been committed to peace.

"China also, maintains that disputes concerning territory and maritime rights and interests should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. We need to expand the common ground to regional peace and stability," he said. "China has all along worked for the peaceful settlement of the hotspot issues."

Afghan Vice President Sarwar Danesh also spoke, reminding world leaders the country still struggles with the constant threat of terrorism, and in particular, seeks to protects journalists.

"Afghanistan requests the United Nations to appoint a special representative for the safety of journalists, focused on the protecting all journalists including those serving in Afghanistan," he said.

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi and long-time Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe also spoke during the morning session.

United States President Barack Obama addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 20, 2016.

United States President Barack Obama addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 20, 2016.

Syria, refugee crisis

Many of Tuesday's speeches focused on Syria and the refugee crisis. President Obama said there is no ultimate military victory to be won in Syria and said a diplomatic solution must be pursued.

Obama also warned that “the embers of extremism will continue to burn” in the world, but that “the world is too small for us to simply be able to build a wall” and prevent it from affecting society.

This year marks both Obama and Ban's last U.N. addresses. Obama will leave office in January, and after nearly a decade of leading the international body Ban will step down by yearend.

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