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US Says Multilateral Engagement a Priority at UN General Assembly

A State Department official on Friday outlined the administration's priorities for the United Nations General Assembly, highlighting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first event upon arriving in New York Sunday is a meeting on flood relief in Pakistan.

Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer noted that this U.N. General Assembly will be the second of President Barack Obama's administration.

"Last year, President Obama made clear his intent to lead the United States back to the multilateral table and that intent was defined as the era of engagement," she said.

She said that during the past year, it has matured into an era of action. Brimmer pointed to U.S. involvement in nuclear security and non-proliferation conferences, the signing of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and the United States' first year as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Looking ahead, Brimmer told reporters at the State Department Friday that the U.S. has four main objectives for this General Assembly: to focus on the Millennium Development Goals, to improve U.N. tools for peace and security, to promote human rights and to tackle environmental challenges.

Brimmer said Secretary Clinton will attend a number of events related to Mideast peace during her time in New York. She said Clinton's first event upon arriving in New York City Sunday is a meeting with senior officials from other countries to discuss ongoing flood relief in Pakistan.

Clinton and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd met at the State Department Friday, where they underscored the importance of Pakistani aid efforts.

Australia's top diplomat had just returned from a trip to the flood-ravaged central province of Punjab. He said the humanitarian situation in Pakistan is dire.

"My simple message to the rest of the international community is that this challenge has not gone away. The risk of waterborne diseases for the people of Pakistan is huge, and the possibility of epidemics still remains real," he said.

While in Pakistan, Rudd met with U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Secretary Clinton praised Australia's commitment to help the people of Pakistan. "And now we have to make sure that the money gets to the people and alleviates the suffering that they are experiencing and helps with the reconstruction," she said.

July's heavy monsoon rains in northern Pakistan sent floodwaters rushing south across the country. More than 1,700 people were killed and millions were left homeless.