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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.

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