Entries in UN General Assembly (9)


North Korean FM: US Using Hatred of NK as Excuse to Start War

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the U.S. tries to extricate itself from an 11-year-long war in Afghanistan, an old nemesis is alleging that Washington is ready to start another one in the Far East.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil Yon told the United Nations General Assembly on Monday that the U.S. has drawn up plans to launch a second Korean War but this time, nuclear weapons will be involved.

The only thing that has stopped Washington from undertaking such a venture, according to Pak, is the military might of Pyongyang.

Nonetheless, Pak warned that just a single event could trigger a thermonuclear conflict that could have a devastating impact on the region and the world.

He defined the U.S. strategy as first launching a "vicious cycle of confrontation and aggravation" against North Korea as a prelude to taking over the Korean peninsula with the eventual goal of dominating the entire Asian continent.

Pak claimed the only way to make certain that this scenario doesn't occur is for the U.S. to end all hostilities toward North Korea, which his government refers to as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syrian FM Accuses US and Others of Spurring Conflict, Refugee Crisis

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Syria's foreign minister didn't have much encouraging news Monday about the conflict in his country while addressing the United Nations General Assembly.

Mostly, Walid al-Moallem pointed fingers at the international community for prolonging the bloody civil war between government forces and rebels that began in March 2011.

In sharply worded remarks before the U.N., Moallem accused the U.S., France, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia with sparking and supporting "terrorism in Syria with money, weapons and foreign fighters."

President Bashar al-Assad's regime has consistently referred to the armed resistance in Syria as "terrorists" who receive foreign support.

The foreign minister also went as far as blaming his country's neighbors for the 300,000 Syrians that have sought refuge in other countries, alleging that Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq have created an artificial crisis.

During a brief break from his diatribe, Moallem suggested that a dialogue on political transition could happen even as al-Assad has been adamant about not relinquishing power.

Earlier, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Syria's foreign minister that his government was predominantly responsible for "the continued killings, massive destruction, human rights abuses, and aerial and artillery attacks" in Syria, according to Ban's spokesman.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UK, Afghanistan and Pakistan Have Constructive UN Pow-Wow

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Something positive has come out of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City this week -- even if it happened in the sidelines.

The leaders of the United Kingdom, Afghanistan and Pakistan pledged that their governments would continue seeking regional peace, stability and development in the region as the war in Afghanistan nears its 11th anniversary.

British Prime Minister David Cameron met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to also discuss eliminating terrorism that still plagues Afghanistan and its often contentious neighbor.

In perhaps the most important sign of cooperation, Zardari said he supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process to end the long war.

Zadari and Karzai also expressed their appreciation to Cameron for the United Kingdom's constant support in the region and for backing the socio-economic development of their people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran's Ahmadinejad Says America Entrusted Itself to the Devil

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In a fiery speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad railed Wednesday against the United States and European Union, whom he said have "have entrusted themselves to the devil."

The Assembly hall was not full when Ahmadinejad spoke.  The United States delegation to the United Nations, along with Israel's delegation, boycotted Ahmadinejad's speech to protest the anti-Israel views Ahmadinejad has perpetuated this week during a spurt of media interviews.

The Iranian leader, who has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and denied the existence of the Holocaust, spoke Wednesday on one of Judaism's holiest days, Yom Kippur.  During his speech he referred to Israelis as "uncivilized Zionists."

Ahmadinejad had a list of complaints about the U.S. and Europe.

He called for a "new world order" and said that allowing five countries to have veto power at the U.N. Security Council was "in no way acceptable."  The United States, Russia, China, Britain and France have the power to veto resolutions.

"The current abysmal situations of the world are due mainly to the wrong leadership of the world who have entrusted themselves to the devil," he said, referring to America's commanding position in world affairs.

He condemned the current U.S. presidential election for spending "hundreds of millions on election campaigns" and not listening to the "will and views of the masses."

"In the United States and in Europe their voices are not heard even if they constitute 99 percent of the societies," he said.  "Human and ethical values are sacrificed in order to win worlds."

Ahmadinejad also dubbed capitalism a "failed practice" that is "bogged down in a self made quagmire and has unleashed a deadlock and has not been able to come up with any solution to the economic and social problems of the world."

In addition, he criticized the United States for "throwing" Osama bin Laden "into the sea without military trial," referring to the U.S. disposal of bin Laden's body off of a U.S. warship following Muslim prayers.

Ahmadinejad did not talk about his country's nuclear program, which has aligned the U.S., the E.U. and the U.N. against his country with a series of stringent sanctions intended to dissuade Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Boycotts Iranian President's United Nations Speech

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) -- The United States delegation to the United Nations boycotted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech to the U.N General Assembly on Wednesday to protest the anti-Israel views Ahmadinejad has perpetuated this week during a spurt of media interviews.

The fiery leader, who has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel and denied the existence of the Holocaust, spoke Wednesday on one of Judaism's holiest days, Yom Kippur.

"Over the past couple of days, we've seen Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the U.N. not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel," Erin Pelton, a spokesman for United States U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, said in a statement.

"It's particularly unfortunate that Mr. Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the U.N. General Assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend," Pelton said.

A bipartisan group of 14 U.S. House members pushed a resolution on Monday demanding that President Obama pressure the United Nations to move or cancel Ahmadinejad's speech, saying it was "offensive" and "insensitive" that the "Anti-Semitic" leader speak on Yom Kippur.

The United States as well as other Western delegations have traditionally walked out of the assembly hall in protest when the Iranian president speaks.

During his United Nations speech last year, the American delegation walked out after Ahmadinejad insulted the U.S. for killing Osama bin Laden and suggested that the Sept. 11 attacks was a conspiracy.  Most European countries left in protest after he questioned the Holocaust.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UN Chief Wants Action from Security Council to End Syrian Conflict

SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had a pretty stern message from the international community at the start of the General Assembly Tuesday: fix the situation in Syria or suffer the consequences.

With the conflict in Syria 19 months old and tens of thousands of fatalities, Ban called the situation "a regional calamity with global ramifications." He said it was time for the Security Council to step up and get past their differences on how to resolve the civil war that now threatens world peace.

According to the U.N. chief, "The international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control."  Ban said the Security Council must follow the directives of special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who claimed conditions in Syria have become "very grim."

Previous attempts to pass resolutions to bring both President Bashar al-Assad's government and opposition forces to the negotiating table have failed, largely because of the insistence of Russia and China that al-Assad should remain in power and foreign interference ought to be kept to a minimum.

Ban blasted al-Assad for perpetuating "brutal" rights abuse and said that war crimes that have occurred in Syria should not go unpunished.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wife Asks Ahmadinejad for Help in Finding Missing Ex-FBI Agent Husband

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to speak to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, an electronic billboard in Times Square and subway placards around the city will remind the Iranian president and U.N. delegates of an American who has been missing in Iran for more than five years.

"I'm trying to make the public realize that my husband is the second-longest held hostage in American history," said Christine Levinson, husband of former FBI agent Robert Levinson. "It's been five and a half years since he disappeared on Kish Island and two years since we received a video from his captors . . . and we still have no information about Bob since the day he disappeared."

"This week, with the UN General Assembly in New York," Christine Levinson told ABC News, "we are trying to get the whole world's attention. I am hoping we will finally be able to get him home."

Robert Levinson, a father of seven and grandfather of two, began working as a private detective after leaving the FBI. He disappeared in March 9, 2007 while on a business trip to the Iranian resort island of Kish. U.S. officials believe he is being held by unknown captors in Southwest Asia.

Five months after his disappearance, against the advice of the U.S. government, Christine Levinson and her son traveled to Tehran to conduct their own investigation, but the trip yielded no results.

The Levinson family received a so-called "proof of life" video in late 2010 showing Levinson, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, in deteriorating health. Levinson, who was 62 at the time, addressed Christine as "my beautiful, my loving, my loyal wife" and referred to his 33 years of service to the federal government before pleading for help from U.S. authorities.

Christine Levinson is now appealing directly to Ahmadinejad, who is under the international spotlight as he prepares to give his final speech to the U.N. as Iranian president. He leaves office next year. "In the past he has said that he will investigate and he will have his people investigate," Levinson told CNN. "He has promised to help us. So we need to get him in touch with whoever can help us get the job done and get Bob home."

Pictures of Levinson began appearing on subway placards in midtown Manhattan last week. The signs, and a Times Square billboard, feature a picture of Levinson next to the word "Missing" and ask United Nations delegates to "encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to work with the U.S. to bring Bob home."

This year the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information. The case has frustrated investigators, whose diplomatic strategies have failed.

"We ask ourselves how is it possible that someone -- especially someone 6'4" and (then) 225 pounds -- disappears without a trace," reads a statement from the Levinsons on the family's website.

Iranian representatives did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Will Not Meet with Israel’s Netanyahu This Month

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will not meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister is in the United States later this month for the U.N. General Assembly, because the two leaders’ schedules make a meeting impossible, the White House said Tuesday.

“The President arrives in New York for the UN on Monday, September 24th and departs on Tuesday, September 25th. The Prime Minister doesn’t arrive in New York until later in the week. They’re simply not in the city at the same time. But the President and PM are in frequent contact and the PM will meet with other senior officials, including Secretary Clinton, during his visit,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a written statement.

The announcement comes amid tension between the United States and Israel over Iran’s nuclear program and follows Netanyahu’s declaration earlier this week that those who refuse to put “red lines” before Iran have no moral right to give Israel a “red light.”

The Obama administration has opposed issuing ultimatums, backing diplomatic negotiations and sanctions as the best approach to deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions.

An Israeli official told ABC News that Netanyahu’s office requested a meeting with Obama but was told that because of the president’s tight schedule it wouldn’t be possible. The official admitted that with just a day and a half open, the window wasn’t very big, although the official said the Israelis did offer to go to Washington if a meeting in New York was not possible.

The meeting was requested when the trip was made official more than a week ago and was declined “in the last few days,” according to the Israeli official.

However, the White House released a statement later Tuesday that no such request was made for the two leaders to meet in Washington.

"Contrary to reports in the press, there was never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied," the White House statement said.

This will be the first time Netanyahu has visited the United States as prime minister and not met with Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UN General Assembly Condemns Syrian Violence

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The UN General Assembly Thursday voted in favor of a resolution in support of the Arab League to call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.  The resolution also denounced violation against the human rights of Syrians.

The resolution passed with 137 votes in favor, 12 no votes and 17 abstentions.  The vote tally could change, since at least three countries complained they were not able to register their electronic votes properly.

Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, China were among the countries voting against the resolution.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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