The Latest: Myanmar defends itself against UN report
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The latest on the United Nations General Assembly (all times local):
Myanmar is defending itself against a United Nations report released in August which accused the Southeast Asian country of committing genocide against the Rohingya.
In a speech at the U.N. General Assembly Friday, Kyaw Tint Swe, the country’s union minister for the state counsellor, said the report was “based on narratives and not hard evidence.”
The official accused Bangladesh, which is hosting over a million Rohingya refugees, of failing to repatriate them to Myanmar based on three agreements the countries have signed.
Bangladeshi President Sheikh Hasina had accused Myanmar Thursday at her U.N. speech of failing to honor a verbal commitment to take back Rohingya Muslims who have fled a crackdown she described as tantamount to genocide.
Cambodia’s longtime prime minister has taken aim at unilateralism and “protectionist policy,” saying they cause problems in the attempts to cultivate healthy economies and relations.
Hun Sen’s comments seemed aimed at the United States, which has recently taken both positions publicly and imposed tough tariffs on China — and slapped some sanctions on Cambodia as well.
Hun Sen says adherence to protectionist policy and unilateralism means nations are “closing the door” by not welcoming trade and investment. In his words, “Eventually, we are all poorer.”
He also says bigger countries shouldn’t try to bully smaller ones, which he says “also possess sovereignty.”
Hun Sen’s ruling party hailed itself for winning an election in July. The opposition party, unable to contest the polls, said they marked the death of democracy in the Southeast Asian nation. The United States at that time lamented what it called “flawed elections.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow has started delivering S-300 air defense systems to Syria’s government.
Russia announced earlier this week that it would supply the anti-aircraft missiles after Syrian forces responding to an Israeli airstrike on Sept. 17 mistakenly shot down a Russian military reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 people on board.
The friendly fire incident sparked regional tensions. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin to express sorrow at the loss of life and sent a high-level military delegation to Moscow.
Lavrov was asked about the S-300s at a news conference Friday and responded: “The deliveries started already.”
He added that “the measures we will take will be devoted to ensure 100 percent safety and security of our men in Syria, and we will do this.”
Russia’s foreign minister is saying that U.S-Russia relations “are bad and probably at their all-time low.”
Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference Friday it is apparent that those who have to implement agreements reached at “constructive” meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin “are in no hurry to do that.”
Lavrov also said U.S.-Russian working groups on counter-terrorism and cyber-security are on hold as is a critical dialogue on strategic stability.
Lavrov made the remarks hours after addressing world leaders at the United Nation’s annual General Assembly. Lavrov used Russia’s speech to vigorously defend multilateral organizations like the United Nations and warn against unilateral moves by the U.S. or other countries.
Iraq’s top diplomat has thanked the international community and the United Nations for its help in fighting the Islamic State over the past four years.
Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari expressed gratitude and said Iraqis “will never forget those who stood shoulder to shoulder with them at this bloody and dark hour.”
He outlined in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly how his nation is moving forward after years of war and disarray, including strengthening state institutions, encouraging participation in governance and “joining the club of democratic nations.”
In his words, “This is a new era in Iraq’s story.”
The lawyer representing two Reuters journalists imprisoned in Myanmar for what critics say was merely doing their jobs is urging the government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to undo “a miscarriage of justice” by immediately pardoning them.
Human rights attorney Amal Clooney noted to an audience at the United Nations that Suu Kyi was a victim of wrongful imprisonment and said history will judge her on whether she grants the request for a pardon by the families of reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. They were sentenced to seven years in prison.
Clooney says the request for a pardon isn’t an admission of guilt and is calling for Myanmar’s government to admit that no crime was committed.
Critics say the Reuters reporters were imprisoned because the government wanted to prevent the news agency from publishing their story on the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys.
About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh amid a brutal military campaign in Myanmar. Myanmar’s army is accused of mass rape, killings and setting fire to thousands of homes in the aftermath of an August 2017 attack by Rohingya militants on security outposts
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says the crisis in multilateral diplomacy can be resolved, citing his own country’s history following the defeat of Nazism.
Maas told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that “our European neighbors’ courage in seeking reconciliation” and the help of the United States put a scarred continent on a path to freedom, security and prosperity after World War II.
In an unspoken reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” policy, Maas said, “Multilateralism and sovereignty are not a contradiction in terms.”
He added that “in a world faced with immense global problems, we can only safeguard sovereignty if we work together” on issues such as climate change and the conflict in Syria.
Maas also called for international rules to keep pace with technological developments such as the emergence of “killer robots” that are capable of operating without human oversight. He urged leaders to support German efforts “to ban fully autonomous weapons, before it’s too late.”
The prime minister of Fiji says his nation is losing patience with world leaders who voice concern over climate change “and then do little or nothing” to reduce their nations’ greenhouse gas emissions.
Voreqe Bainimarama told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the world risks missing its target of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as set out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Bainimarama said that “leaders who ignore this threat and give their people new coal-fired power plants instead of a better future for their children are either tragically shortsighted or simply engaging in a most cynical form of betrayal.”
He called for leaders to show greater ambitious to stop climate change when they gather for a climate summit in Katowice, Poland, in December
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will do “everything possible” to preserve the 2015 accord on curbing curb Iran’s nuclear program despite the U.S. withdrawal.
Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, Lavrov denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal and called it part of a dangerous trend of unilateral measure that risk damaging the post-World War II global order.
He called the U.S. move a violation of U.N. resolutions and a threat to stability in the Mideast.
Lavrov met this week with Iran’s foreign minister and other signatories to the 2015 deal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is denouncing what he says are “baseless accusations” of Russian interference in foreign affairs and lashing out at U.S. policies in Iran, Syria and Venezuela.
Lavrov used Russia’s speech at the annual U.N. General Assembly to vigorously defend multilateral organizations like the United Nations and warn against unilateral moves by the U.S. or other countries.
Lavrov accused unnamed forces of “endeavors to undermine democratically elected governments,” in an apparent reference to U.S. and EU support for Russia’s neighbors and the Syrian opposition.
Russia has denied widespread evidence tying it to meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, a nerve agent attack in Britain and other actions abroad.
Greece is using its address to world leaders to chastise some European neighbors for turning their backs on migrants who continue to pour into Europe by land and by sea.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says Friday that Greece is dealing with the highest refugee flows since World War II and notes that Greeks have “opened their arms to incoming migrants, showing the world what solidarity means.”
He says Greeks did not “give in to nationalistic and xenophobic voices that called for pushbacks in the sea or a superficial asylum process aimed at rejecting everyone.”
Most migrants land in Italy and Greece and those countries feel abandoned by their EU partners. Member states like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are unwilling to share the burden and refuse to accept refugee quotas.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is criticizing growing political, economic and social turmoil around the world, saying the situation has only worsened since the start of the century.
The 93-year-old Mahathir told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that when he last spoke to the forum in 2003, shortly before retiring, “I lamented how the world had lost its way.”
Mahathir returned to politics this year and says that “if at all, the world is far worse than 15 years ago.”
He cites the trade fight between China and the United States, saying that “the rest of the world is feeling the pain.”
And he criticizes the government of Myanmar for its treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority and accuses the rest of the world of failing to act.
Mahathir asked fellow leaders: “Nations are independent, but does this mean that they have a right to massacre their own people?”
The U.N.’s deputy humanitarian chief says Myanmar hasn’t “substantively and concretely” addressed the issues that led more than 725,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee, and therefore conditions aren’t right for their repatriation from Bangladesh.
Ursula Mueller told a high-level event at the U.N. General Assembly’s ministerial meeting Thursday that the government “must take real steps forward, clearly demonstrating a commitment to immediate change on the ground.”
In her speech, circulated Friday, Mueller said the Rohingya are now “the world’s largest stateless population.” She urged donors to respond to the refugee crisis, stressing that the appeal for Bangladesh is only 38 percent funded.
Mueller also urged Myanmar’s government to dismantle segregated facilities for the roughly 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar and end the marginalization and “deplorable conditions” many are forced to live in.
China’s foreign minister says “now is a crucial time” for the implementation of a deal with Iran to prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Wang Yi told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the 2015 deal was endorsed at the time by the global body’s powerful Security Council.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has since yanked its support for the deal and is re-imposing sanctions on Tehran.
The agreement is still supported by China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, and Wang says it “serves the common interests of all parties concerned and the international community at large.”
He warns that if the deal isn’t implemented, “the international nuclear non-proliferation regime will be undermined” and the authority of the Security Council will be challenged.
Wang is calling for talks to resolve the issue “through dialogue and consultation.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says his country encourages North Korea “to continue moving along the right direction toward denuclearization.”
Wang said Friday the issue on the Korean peninsula “has seen a major turnaround thanks to the efforts of all parties concerned.”
He told the U.N. Security Council that China has worked to contribute its part to improve relations between North Korea and South Korea, as well as efforts to facilitate dialogue between Pyongyang and the United States.
Wang said and “effective settlement of the issue requires complete denuclearization as well the establishment of a peace mechanism.”
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi says relations between nations should be “based on credibility, not on willful revocation of commitment” as his country and the United State remain locked in a dispute over trade.
Wang told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that China spent more than a decade negotiating its membership of the global trading system and has “fulfilled its promises and integrated itself into the world financial system.”
He stressed Beijing’s commitment to multilateralism, adding that “unilateral moves will bring damage to all”, a reference to resolving disputes within the framework of the World Trade Organization.
Wang criticized the imposition of tariffs and insisted that “China will not be blackmailed or yield to pressure.”
Two of Macedonia’s closest neighbors are welcoming the country’s upcoming referendum on changing its name.
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the agreement between Greece and Macedonia to resolve their long-standing dispute over the name is an example of a “new spirit” between countries in the region.
Greece objects to Macedonia’s current name, saying it implies a claim to territory in the Greek province with that name and to the heritage of the birthplace of revered ancient warrior Alexander the Great.
Albania’s President Ilir Meta likewise welcomed the agreement in his speech to world leaders Friday, contrasting with Macedonia’s own president, who told the assembly a day earlier that voters should abstain from Sunday’s referendum on renaming the country “North Macedonia.”
Civil war-torn South Sudan is calling on the international community, “including those who are skeptical, to give peace a chance” as the latest agreement to end the conflict moves forward.
First Vice President Taban Deng Gai told the U.N. gathering of world leaders Friday that the East African country is on schedule to hold “free and fair” general elections after a 36-month transition period under the new agreement.
The United States and others are wary of this latest deal, which returns rebel leader Riek Machar as President Salva Kiir’s deputy. Fighting between their supporters sparked the civil war in late 2013.
A new report this week gave a striking new estimate of the conflict’s toll: 382,900 deaths, with roughly half blamed on violence and many others on disease.
“As brothers and sisters we have hurt each other,” the first vice president told the U.N.
Moscow is expected to use its address to world leaders to enshrine Russia as a counterweight to U.S. influence in areas from the Mideast to Venezuela and the Korean peninsula.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held a flurry of bilateral meetings at the United Nations this week and has loudly defended Russia’s strategies in meetings at the Security Council.
Syria has been Russia’s running theme, as Moscow seeks to manage the end of the civil war and ensure a long-term foothold in the region.
Russia is Syrian President Bashar Assad’s longtime patron and wants Western financing for Syria’s reconstruction while maintaining the upper hand in discussions on Syria’s political future.
The two countries that the United States has accused of interfering with its elections are taking take their turns at the podium at the United Nations’ annual gathering of world leaders.
Major powers China and Russia — neither of which sent their most senior leader to the U.N. General Assembly — will put forth their foreign ministers to tell their stories.
The accusations against China came this week from U.S. President Donald Trump, who said he has evidence but so far has not released any. In contrast, Russia has been the focus of a special counsel investigation, which Trump has lambasted as a political “witch hunt.”