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World Leaders Call for Efforts to Curb Growing Global Financial Crisis


World leaders have expressed growing concern over the turbulent state of the global economy, calling for united action to stop it from worsening. From United Nations' headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer reports on the first day of the U.N. General Assembly's annual meeting.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the meeting warning that the world faces multiple crises and urged the international community to take a united approach in resolving them.

"We face a global financial crisis," said Ban Ki-moon. "A global energy crisis. A global food crisis. Trade talks have collapsed, yet again. We have seen new outbreaks of war and violence, new rhetoric of confrontation. Climate change ever more clearly threatens our planet."

The United Nations is only a few kilometers from New York's financial district where markets have fallen dramatically. Mr. Ban cautioned that the growing global financial crisis could undermine U.N. and international efforts to improve living conditions in the poorest countries.
That concern was reflected in the remarks of several heads of state who took the podium on Tuesday. But President Bush, who made his last address to the General Assembly, sought to reassure the international community. He said his administration has taken "bold steps" to prevent a severe disruption of the American economy, which could have a devastating effect on other economies around the world.

"I can assure you that my administration and our Congress are working together to quickly pass legislation approving this strategy," said President Bush.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking in his capacity as European Union President, proposed a G-8 summit to tackle the crisis, while his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, urged reform of multi-lateral economic bodies.

During the assembly's afternoon session, the presidents of Kenya and Lebanon - two nations recovering from political crises - pledged to work through their difficulties.

While Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili urged the international community not to remain silent in the face of Russia's invasion of his country last month, saying if the United Nations does not stand up to such military action it would be weakened as an institution.

"If, however, we fail to rise to the challenge, I fear that the violence and tactics that subverted state sovereignty in Georgia will spread to other parts of the world," said Mikheil Saakashvili. "It is our collective responsibility to respond with conviction and resolve."

Russian forces routed Georgian troops trying to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia from pro-Russian separatists. Moscow's troops continue to occupy South Ossetia and another separatist territory, Abkhazia.

The General Assembly also heard from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in a lengthy discourse on religion, justice and his dislike of Israel, also reiterated his government's position that Iran has a legal right to peaceful nuclear technology.