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UN Summit Aims to Reduce Poverty, Hunger and Disease

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers his address at the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations in New York, 20 Sep 2010

World leaders are meeting at the United Nations for the second day of a summit aimed at drastically reducing global poverty, hunger and disease within the next five years.

The three-day meeting is intended to review progress and commit to concrete steps to reach the Millennium Development Goals on schedule. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the leaders to honor aid commitments made 10 years ago.

U.N. members resolved a decade ago to reduce extreme poverty, ensure every child finishes primary school and stop the HIV/AIDS pandemic. They also vowed to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and reduce the number of people worldwide who do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation.

But a U.N. report earlier this year said several of the Millennium Development Goals are lagging and could fail without additional efforts.

In his speech Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the creation of what he called a "just world order" and said the United Nations should seek a decade "for joint global governance."

He did not mention tensions over Iran's disputed nuclear program and sanctions imposed by governments and international bodies, including the United Nations. He blamed much of the world's tensions on what he called undemocratic and unjust governance.

Also at the summit Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe condemned Western sanctions against him and his close supporters. He described the sanctions as hindrances, hurting development in Zimbabwe.

For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on world leaders to continue working to fulfill the Millenium Development Goals. She said the primary responsibility for development lies with the governments of developed countries.

Presidents and prime ministers from 140 countries are attending the summit. U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the forum Wednesday, on its final day.

The meeting comes ahead of the general debate of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, which begins on Thursday.