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September 25, 2013

Syria Dominates UN General Assembly

by VOA News

Syria and its chemical weapons continued to dominate the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Speaker after speaker on the assembly's second day Wednesday condemned the use of poison gas against civilians. They demanded that Syria keep its promise to rid itself of such weapons.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy spoke for 28 European Union members when he called the chemical weapons attack last month near Damascus an abhorrent crime against humanity. He pleaded with the Security Council to adopt a clear resolution spelling out what Syria must do to eliminate its arsenal.

Van Rompuy also said the EU hopes the expectations brought on by new leadership in Iran will mean concrete steps toward a negotiated solution to that country's nuclear crisis.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has canceled his planned visit to the United Nations. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide, and he faced possible arrest if he came to New York.

Bashir was supposed to address the General Assembly on Thursday. Sudan's prime minister will speak on Friday instead.

Also Wednesday, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said his country is anxiously waiting for what he calls "just recognition" from the U.N. for detaining a North Korean ship carrying banned war material. He told the General Assembly that Panama was acting on its wish to comply with U.N. rules and laws.

Panama stopped the North Korean-flagged ship going through the canal in July, after it was suspected of carrying drugs. Inspectors say they found missiles and fighter jet parts hidden under a shipment of raw sugar.

The ship remains in Panamanian custody.