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The Latest: Pope leaves blessing in UN guest book

September 25, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Latest developments at the United Nations summit to adopt an ambitious blueprint to eradicate extreme poverty and other global goals. (All times local).


6:45 p.m.

As Pope Francis swept on from his address to the United Nations to multiple events in Manhattan, U.N. officials took a peek at the message he left in the visitors’ book.

The handwritten note in English was a simple but profound message for the world body, and perhaps for the global community at large.

“May the Almighty bless this assembly, and may its service to the international community be marked by fraternity, solidarity and justice. Francis.”

After the somber and slightly weary-looking pope finished writing it, he allowed a brief smile, removed his glasses, stood and moved on to a full day ahead.


6:30 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe urged the West to revoke sanctions against his country for the sake of a new far-reaching development agenda.

Addressing a U.N. global gathering after the launch of a new development program, Mugabe praised what he called an “ambitious” development agenda that can “usher in a potentially glorious future.”

The United States and European Union have targeted individuals and entities in Zimbabwe that have undermined democratic processes or institutions.

However, the president acknowledged, his country lacks resources to successfully implement all of the program’s provisions because of sanctions imposed by western countries. “Freed of fetters of sanctions,” Zimbabwe will stand a better chance of implementing the goals, he said.


5 p.m.

Nigeria’s president is reaffirming his determination to fight corruption in his oil-rich country, where he has said the amount of money missing from state coffers is a staggering $150 billion.

President Muhammadu Buhari says his government is taking measures to “plug all loopholes,” including oil theft, that have led to the flight of capital from Africa’s largest economy.

He spoke at a U.N. global gathering after the launch of a sweeping new development agenda for the next 15 years.

Nigeria’s president also noted the need for “efficient tax collection,” which is the focus of a joint project of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that aims to bring in a large amount of the trillions of dollars needed to pay for the development agenda.


4:10 p.m.

Participants in a high-level side event to celebrate the adoption of a new United Nations development agenda hailed the universal scope of the program.

The group was welcomed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said the new blueprint was “designed to resonate with people across the world” and sends a clear message to policy makers.

Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Group, said the newly adopted goals call “for a paradigm shift” in how the international society understands development.

Germany wants to be a role model when it comes to the implementation of the goals, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, stressing the broad scope of the goals “shouldn’t be used as an excuse” for failure

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg referenced the Elvis Presley’s song “less conversation, more action.”


3:55 p.m.

Call it a power selfie. Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were captured in a quick informal photo taken with a so-called Twitter Mirror shortly after the pope’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

The United Nations quickly tweeted the duo.

It’s the first time the specially outfitted Twitter tablet, usually seen at glitzy events like the Grammys, has been used at the far more gray and bureaucratic U.N.

The photo shows Ban and a weary-looking but smiling pope in front of the U.N. singers, who performed as the pope left the building.

Francis spoke just minutes before the adoption of a sweeping global agenda for development that largely echoes his emphasis on climate and the poor.


3:25 p.m.

The head of the International Monetary Fund is blunt about the need for inclusiveness in the sweeping new set of global development goals. “Poverty and exclusion are sexist,” Christine Lagarde told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

She and World Bank chief Jim Young Kim pledged their organizations’ support to the 15-year agenda that lies ahead.

“We’ll adapt the financial tools of the rich to serve the poor,” Kim said.

This generation is “the first generation in human history that can see the end of extreme poverty,” Kim said, and he stressed that the world “must not turn away.”

Kim also said the World Bank and the IMF have a joint program to help countries improve tax collection to help raise the trillions of dollars needed in development assistance.


2:30 p.m.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah says a sweeping new blueprint for sustainable global development adopted for the next 15 years represents “a compelling mission,” adding that the responsibility for its implementation lies “primarily within the states.”

Addressing a U.N. summit meeting that adopted the program to combat poverty and protect the planet, he has said that in order to achieve these goals, the international community needs “political commitment and revitalized partnership.”



Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says it is her ultimate dream to return to Pakistan’s Swat Valley and hopes she will be able to do so “very soon, inshallah.”

The teen activist spoke to reporters Friday shortly after addressing the U.N. General Assembly during a historic session to adopt sweeping new development goals.

Malala was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley for advocating education for women.

Now she’s looking ahead to a higher education for herself. “I’m hoping I can go to a good university,” she told reporters. She said she is very interested in studying politics and economics and described herself as “just a normal girl” seeking knowledge.

She spoke with other teens, including a 15-year-old Syrian refugee.


210 p.m.

India’s prime minister has confirmed plans for a fivefold boost in renewable energy but is adding two years to the time frame.

Narendra Modi previously pledged that India would make the increase by the next time he faces election in 2020, but on Friday he acknowledged that it would take longer than planned. He now says it will take seven years.

Modi addressed the U.N. General Assembly shortly after world leaders adopted a sweeping new agenda for global development for the next 15 years.

India’s climate commitment to the U.N. has been widely anticipated in advance of a global summit in Paris in December. Its government has said it will make its climate commitment by Oct. 1.

Modi also said eliminating poverty tops India’s development goals.


2:03 p.m.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says the international community has to deal effectively with global challenges that hinder development, “especially terrorism” which is not confined to Arab nations but has spread globally.

He told a U.N. summit meeting that adopted a 15-year program to eradicate poverty and preserve the planet, that the Egyptian people are facing “the most dangerous extremist terrorist ideology” as they pursue the new agenda.

El-Sissi said Egypt needs fair and balanced development that benefits all people, “and most of all to women” who play a pivotal role in all walks of life and are the first “to answer the call of their homeland.”

He said he worried the tools to implement the 17 new development goals are insufficient, stressing that richer nations have a historic responsibility to help poorer ones.


1:40 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there is no quick cure to the migrant crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and persecution flood into Europe and other safe havens closer to home.

Merkel says that both those witnessing their suffering and countries most affected by the migrant flow know “that in the end, there cannot be one solution” to the problem.

Germany is one of the hardest hit by the influx to Europe. It expects 800,000 asylum applications in 2015.


1:10 p.m.

Now that world leaders have launched an ambitious set of global goals to eliminate hunger and poverty over the next 15 years, how are they going to make it happen?

“It’s not unrealistic if the political will is there,” the U.N. General Assembly president, Mogens Lykketoft, told reporters after Friday’s launch.

Lykketoft said it was a “brilliant idea” to invite Pope Francis to address the world leaders just minutes before the goals were adopted. “We have urgently needed a huge moral figure like the pope” to explain the importance of pursuing what are known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or the Global Goals, Lykketoft said.

Now the task is making the goals happen. “Will succeed if governments are held accountable for implementation,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted. “Civil society will be key.”



The head of Amnesty International has used his speech to world leaders at the U.N to launch ambitious development goals to make an impassioned critique of mass surveillance, the arms trade and human rights abuses.

Salil Shetty spoke shortly before the adoption of the 15-year Sustainable Development Goals.

“You cannot support sustainable development when you are reluctant to reduce the consumption of the rich or transfer technology,” Shetty said. “You cannot preach about human rights while using mass surveillance.

“You cannot lecture about peace while being the world’s largest manufacturers of arms. You cannot allow your corporations to use financial and tax loopholes while railing against corruption.”

And he added: “You cannot launch these goals and in parallel deny a safe and legal route to refugees, a life with dignity.”



What an opening act: Pope Francis’ speech to the U.N. General Assembly led into performances by singers Shakira and Angelique Kidjo as a historic gathering at the U.N. to adopt global development goals began.

Shakira sang “Imagine,” and Kidjo sang “Afrika.” Then Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai shifted to a more solemn tone with her opening words: “In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful.”

Yousafzai made a plea for education for all. “Promise us that you will keep your commitments and invest in our future,” she said.



A historic gathering of world leaders has adopted a set of ambitious global development goals that aim to eliminate poverty and hunger over the next 15 years.

Around 150 heads of state and government are at the United Nations on Friday through Sunday to launch what are known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

The adoption came minutes after Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly with his own challenge to world leaders to tackle crucial international issues like climate change and ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

The 17 development goals aim to fight climate change and ensure gender equality and education for all, among other things.

The non-binding goals are expected to cost between $3.5 trillion and $5 trillion every year until 2030.

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