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Concluding third day of debate, UN Assembly focuses on Iraq and Middle East

Concluding third day of debate, UN Assembly focuses on Iraq and Middle East

Governor General Puapua of Tuvalu addresses UN Assembly
As the United Nations General Assembly wrapped up its third day of debate among world leaders, representatives from several nations today focused their attention on the situation in the Middle East and in Iraq, and warned of inaction against poverty, hunger and other global problems.

Tomasi Puapua, Governor General of Tuvalu, said that greater faith must be placed in the United Nations to meaningfully address poverty, instability and the effects of environmental degradation. In that "common house of humanity" all countries should come, put down their arms, listen to each other and resolve their differences together.

Tuvalu also supported the goals of sustainable development and commitments made to replenish the Global Environmental Facility. He appealed, however, for more concrete recognition of the special situation of small island developing States (SIDS) in those efforts, particularly in regard to needs for education, health services, fresh water, affordable energy, infrastructure and sanitation. Development aid was indispensable in all those areas. In addition, he called attention to the importance of the management of ocean resources and efforts against global warming.

Deputy Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi said Malaysia was concerned at the lack of urgency in addressing the underlying factors of terrorism. Most of the Muslim world believed that one of the key issues was the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. It was important to understand the root causes of violence in the region, namely the continued occupation of Arab lands by Israeli forces. Israel's oppressive policies have made life for the Palestinians unbearable. The international community could not stand on the sidelines indefinitely. It was time for the Security Council to directly intervene in the situation, beginning with the dispatch of a UN peacekeeping force to the occupied territories.

Morocco's Foreign Minister, Mohammed Benaissa, said that Israel persisted in its repressive policies. He welcomed the Saudi peace initiative, along with the vision of United States President George Bush of two states coexisting side by side. Despite the continued violence, Morocco still supported a revitalization of the peace process and an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital and a place for coexistence and tolerance amongst the three revealed religions. As for the Iraqi issue, he said it must be resolved according to principles enshrined in the UN Charter, in a way that preserved the stability and security of the region but did not inflict further suffering on the Iraqi people.

Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner of Austria said that in order to arrive at a political solution providing for two States - Israel and Palestine - each living within secure and recognized borders, her country supported the idea of an early international conference with the backing of the Quartet - the UN, United States, Russia and European Union - as well as interested countries of the region. She said Austria also backed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts to bring about the speedy, unfettered and unconditional return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq and its full compliance with the obligations of all relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council had an obligation "to take responsibility for ensuring full compliance with its resolutions in order to maintain world peace," she stressed.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko said Ukraine welcomed the advancement of the stabilization process in the Balkans and fully supported the active involvement of European actors to further normalize the security situation in that region. The lack of progress in the settling other problems, however, including the Georgian-Abkhazia conflict, was regrettable. Ukraine was also deeply concerned over developments in the Pankisi Valley and the rise in tensions between Georgia and the Russian Federation. Those existing misunderstandings must be resolved peacefully in compliance with international law. As for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, he said that for millions of Ukrainians, it remained a difficult reality of everyday life. The international community should support the country's efforts within a new UN strategy for addressing the consequences of the catastrophe.

Guyana's Foreign Minister, Rudolph Insanally, said that the international community was now plagued by dangerous instability, which threatened to undermine, if not destroy, many States. Not only were nations faced with the horror of terrorism, but also lived with the terror of poverty, hunger and disease, which, though more silent, was perhaps more deadly. Such global instability, Mr. Insanally said, also resulted from a failure to implement the Agenda for Development that States had agreed on. After more than a decade of development-related conferences, "we should now be fully persuaded that global action remains indispensable to the development process," he said. "What is less clear, however, and continues to be a daunting challenge is the relationship that should underlie such action."

Liliane Patel, Foreign Minister of Malawi, noted that nearly 13 million people in six southern African countries, including her own, were currently in the throes of a severe and life-threatening food crisis brought on by drought-related deficits in grain harvests. There was the possibility of that situation becoming a region-wide security and health catastrophe, especially given that the sub region was already the epicentre of the global HIV/AIDS implosion, she said. For that reason, southern Africa needed closer attention and concrete actions. Extremely troubling, however, was that some Member States and donor institutions had suddenly taken a "minimalist" approach to the central role played by UN funds and programmes in tackling the health problems in developing countries.

Also addressing the Assembly were Foreign Ministers Lydie Polfer of Luxembourg, Phil Goff of New Zealand, Zlatko Lagumdzija of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marsden Madoka of Kenya and Osborne Riviere of Dominica.