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Terrorism, Middle East key themes as UN Assembly wraps up second day of debate

Terrorism, Middle East key themes as UN Assembly wraps up second day of debate

President Chavez of Venezuela
Terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, including the standoff with Iraq, as well as dealing with global poverty and economic crises were all key themes addressed by government representatives today as the General Assembly wrapped up the second day of its high-level debate.

President Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela said that condemnation of terrorism in all its forms needed to be accompanied by a denunciation of the causes of terror, which had made the world a kingdom of injustice, poverty and inequality. The only path to peace was through justice, he said, and the world's leaders must resolve to acknowledge that the current economic situation acted as fuel for the fires of terrorism. Unbridled neo-liberalism had led to great poverty and despair among the peoples of the earth.

Urging the creation of an international humanitarian fund, President Chavez suggested that it could be fed from a variety of sources: from a percentage of the military expenditure of the world's countries; from a portion of the funds annually transferred from the developing to the developed world by poor countries servicing an external debt that seemed eternally to rise; from a portion of the monies that stemmed from the drug trade; from the billions stolen from poor countries by the corrupt; or from a tax levied upon major speculative transactions.

Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher El Sayed, said the Palestinian people continued to suffer under an oppressive occupation that adhered to policies reminiscent of the ages of darkness and chaos. If Israel had a genuine desire for peace, it must stop its aggression against the Palestinian people and agree to withdraw from all Arab territories occupied in 1967 in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. The discussion on peace and security in the Middle East also related to the situation in Iraq, which must be dealt with in the context of the United Nations Security Council resolutions. He affirmed Egypt's rejection of inflicting military strikes against Iraq, but said the country must respect the legitimate will of the international community.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said Kuwait believed that "full and scrupulous" implementation by Iraq of all relevant Security Council resolutions and allowing UN weapons inspectors back into the country would save the region from the horrors of war, which his country did not want. "Such a war would lead only to the aggravation of the suffering of the brotherly people of Iraq and to the escalation of tension and instability in the region," he said.

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of China said that the international security situation was undergoing profound changes and therefore his country stood for a new security concept featuring mutual trust, benefit, equality and cooperation. Within the spirit of that new mechanism, the international community should actively undertake dialogue and cooperation to tackle the major security concerns, such as global terrorism and regional hotspots - particularly the Middle East, Kashmir and Afghanistan - while strengthening exchanges among different civilizations in order to prevent them from turning into conflicts or confrontation.

Igor Ivanov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, noted that the priority task in combating terrorism consisted of strengthening the international legal framework by securing a genuine universal character of the existing antiterrorist treaties. He said the Russian Federation was concerned over the absence of real progress in negotiating a comprehensive convention on combating terrorism as well as a treaty to suppress acts of nuclear terrorism. Differences between countries were quite "reconcilable" and should not overshadow the task of laying a legal basis for counteracting terrorism in all its manifestations.

Ireland's Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen, said that there has been substantial progress across the key areas of implementation of the Good Friday Agreement for Northern Ireland over the past year. The political institutions were operating on a "positive and inclusive" basis, brining tangible benefits across the board. The Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom remained absolutely committed to the accord and to its full implementation, he stressed. Its core principles - constitutional stability, partnership politics, inclusive political institutions and structured North-South cooperation in Ireland - represented the only viable basis for a workable political accommodation.

In her statement, Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear of Chile told the Assembly that the political stability achieved by Latin American countries with so much effort might now be threatened. The economic crisis in the region was a paradoxical situation - while countries in the region have responded to the challenge and adopted many of the structural reforms that were asked of them, the developed world was sending contradictory signals that tested the faith of those who believed in globalization and the system of free trade as the basis for further development.

Also addressing the Assembly were Foreign Ministers S. Jayakumar of Singapore, Choi Sung-hong of the Republic of Korea, Jorge Castañeda Gutman of Mexico, Sükrü Sina Gürel of Turkey, and Guillermo Pérez-Cadalso Arias of Honduras.