World leaders address range of crises at the United Nations
Updated: 2012-09-26 10:35
By Zhang Yuwei at the United Nations (China Daily)
General debate at the General Assembly's 67th annual session began on Tuesday at UN headquarters in New York, with heads of state highlighting sustainable development, hopes for ending the violence in Syria and other issues.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to take action and support efforts of Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian diplomat who this month took over as the special UN envoy to Syria.
"The international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control," Ban said in his address to the General Assembly.
"We must stop the violence and flows of arms to both sides, and set in motion a Syrian-led transition as soon as possible," he said, adding that humanitarian needs are escalating in and beyond the Middle East country torn by an 18-month-old civil war that has killed about 30,000 people.
The gathering of over 120 heads of state and government, along with ministers, got underway as tension between Japan and China intensified over the disputed Diaoyu Islands.
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda arrived in New York on Monday to attend the General Assembly, during which, according to Japanese media report, he will push for implementation of the rule of law as a principle governing territorial disputes.
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who is accompanying Noda, will seek to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, who is leading China's delegation at the General Assembly, on Wednesday in an effort to reduce tensions, Kyodo News reported.
Noda is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Wednesday morning, and experts say he is likely to bring up the islands dispute to seek support from the world community or at least Japan's neighbors in Asia.
But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal at his residence over the weekend, Noda said he wouldn't single out any country by name.
"I don't think it's appropriate for a leader to go on in length and in detail about individual issues," he told the Journal.
Relations between the Asian powers have hit their lowest point in years. China recently canceled events commemorating 40 years of diplomatic relations with Japan, while anti-Japan protests have been seen in numerous Chinese cities and among Chinese communities in other parts of the world.
It was reported that Noda is expected to meet with Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi on the sidelines of the UN meeting in New York.
On Monday, China's Yang met with Indonesia's foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, South Korea's Kim Sung-hwan, UN chief Ban and Syria envoy Brahimi, among other officials.
Yang was also invited by Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state, for a luncheon on Tuesday.
Tuesday's General Assembly speakers also included President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and US President Barack Obama.
Regarding achievements of this year's UN sustainable-development conference in Rio de Janeiro, Rousseff said her country is committed to working with its Latin American neighbors on environmental challenges and combating economic crises and threats to peace around the world.
"Our region is a good example for the world," she said, adding that Brazil has made integration of the Caribbean region into Latin America a priority.
Obama, who also met with Ban on Tuesday, began his speech by talking about Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya who was killed in a recent attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Obama also mentioned Iran, the Middle East peace process and Syria.
"In Syria, the future must not belong to a dictator who tortured children or shot rockets at apartment buildings, and what began with citizens defending their rights should not end in a cycle of sectarian violence," he told the Assembly.
The world now faces a choice between "the promise of the future and the prisons of the past", Obama said. "And we cannot afford to get it wrong."