In annual debate at the UN General Assembly, world leaders have emphasized issues of domestic and international concerns.
US President Barack Obama, in his wide ranging address, laid out his vision for US foreign policy. Stating that US cannot solve the world’s problems alone, he called for a “new era of engagement” and urged other nations to share the responsibility.
“But make no mistake. This cannot be solely America’s endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone. We have sought in word and deed a new era of engagement with the world. And now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges,” he said.
Obama affirmed that the US would withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of 2011; extend support to Afghanistan and Pakistan in combating militancy; and would continue working for peace in the Middle East and a nuclear bomb-free world.
After Obama, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi addressed the assembly in his first ever speech to UN General Assembly in 40 years he has led Libya.
Dressed in his trademark long sweeping robes, Gadhafi covered a range of subjects. Waving a copy of the UN Charter, he protested about what he called inequality of the institution and then he urged for a permanent seat on the Security Council for Africa. Also, he called on former colonial powers to pay$7.77 trillion as compensation to African countries.
Gadhafi, in his address, defended the Taliban, expressed his thoughts on the 1963 assassination of US President John F Kennedy, and also on the H1N1 influenza pandemic.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed President Obama’s recent decision to abandon Bush-era plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
China’s President Hu Jintao warned that the world remains under the impact of the financial crisis and that prospects for an economic recovery are still not clear. While French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a sweeping overhaul of the world’s financial system.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose military has suffered heavy casualties recently in Afghanistan, reasserted his commitment to that country.
Meanwhile, the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina expressed their support for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and called for his immediate return to the power.
Speaking in the evening to a nearly empty room, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a lengthy discourse on religion, humanity, and what he sees as the world’s ills – mainly capitalism, Zionism and liberalism. His speech was notable, however, for what it failed to mention – his government’s controversial nuclear program.