News

World Leaders Address UN Summit

A procession of presidents and prime ministers is addressing the U.N. General Assembly at a special summit marking the world body's 60th anniversary.  The sidelines of the summit are serving as a forum for discussions of sensitive international and bilateral issues.

The lineup of speakers on day two of the U.N. summit included the leaders of Russia, India, China, Japan, Iraq and Israel. But the spotlight was outside the hall, where Secretary-General Kofi Annan was said to be bringing together the foreign ministers of Iran and European powers Britain, France and Germany on Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin suggested discussions would be held, telling reporters France wants to pursue the dialogue.

The United States accuses Tehran of secret efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and along with the European Union, is seeking to have the matter referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, is holding several other meetings on the summit sidelines, including with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary-General Annan.

President Putin was among the first of Thursday's General Assembly speakers. Speaking through an interpreter, he joined the chorus of leaders urging the United Nations to take a leading role in fighting terrorism.

"Terrorism today poses the main threat to human rights and freedoms, as well as to sustainable development of states and people," said Mr. Putin.  "That is why the United Nations and the Security Council must be the main center for coordinating international cooperation in the fight against terrorism."

Speaking little more than a year after the school siege and massacre in Beslan, Mr. Putin did not mention the Chechen rebels blamed for the incident.

But Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his address, singled out Kashmiri rebels in a call for stronger counter-terrorism efforts. He indirectly repeated India's long-standing charge that Pakistan supports the rebels, which Islambad denies.

"We must not yield any space to terrorism," said Mr. Singh.  "For several years, India has faced cross-border terrorism directed against its unity and territorial integrity. We shall never succumb to, or compromise with terror, in Jammu and Kashmir or elsewhere."

Mr. Singh's comments came a day after he held talks with Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, in which they discussed the longstanding dispute over Kashmir. President Musharraf Thursday declined to criticize his Indian counterpart's comments, but said the two sides disagree on who are terrorists and who are freedom fighters.

"On one side the Indian position is there, of cross-border terrorism, which we call freedom struggle. I don't want to get involved in definition, because this is too complicated and unnecessarily creates misunderstandings. Any violence against civilians is terrorism," said Mr. Musharraf.

Another of Thursday's speakers, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, thanked the United States for its help in defending against terrorists, and appealed for international assistance in rebuilding his country. He spoke in both Arabic and Kurdish, through a translator.

"Iraq has risen out of the ashes of dictatorship, with all its backwardness, wasting of resources and mistreating of its people," said Mr. Talabani.  "We are opening our heart, hoping that the world will understand the value and importance of Iraq's experience of fighting terrorism and its rejection of the terrorists' backward ideology."

Afterward, Mr. Talabani told a group of Danish reporters that some foreign troops in Iraq could be replaced with what he called "home grown units" within a month. But he said there is no timetable for the withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces in his country.

The summit closes Friday with approval of a declaration on reform and poverty alleviation that was dramatically scaled back during weeks of negotiation. The 35-page document is far less than the sweeping blueprint for change that Mr. Annan proposed when he called the summit earlier this year.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs