The Latest: Central African Republic asks for more help

AP News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 9:53 PM
The Latest: Central African Republic asks for more help

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The latest developments from the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, where world leaders are grappling with a multitude of global crises, including the fight against terrorism — the Islamic State in particular — and easing the refugee crisis in the Middle East and North Africa (all times local):

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9:45 p.m.

Central African Republic's foreign minister is pleading for more international help as deadly sectarian clashes erupt once again in his country's capital.

Foreign Minister Samuel Rangba told the U.N. General Assembly that the capital, Bangui, has seen a "horrendous spike" in displaced people, with more than 30,000 now.

At least 42 deaths have been confirmed in Bangui since clashes between Christians and Muslims erupted on Saturday.

Rangba said a week ago he had been prepared to announce to world leaders that "the bad times were over" after months of conflict.

Instead, he scrapped his planned speech and asked the U.N. Security Council to consider lifting restrictions on the training and equipping of his country's military.

He also asked for a stronger mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in his country.

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8:30 p.m.

Russia has circulated a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council that calls on all countries to counter increasing "terrorist" threats and acts in the Middle East and North Africa.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, "condemns unconditionally" the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and its Al-Nusra Front affiliate, and other groups "for continued and multiple terrorist acts."

It encourages countries to submit names of people from those groups who are engaged in "oil trade-related activities" to be considered for U.N. sanctions.

The draft welcomes efforts by member states fighting these groups and calls on them to "coordinate their activities with the consent of the states in the territories of which such activities are conducted."

This language is aimed at protecting Moscow's close ally Syria. It was in a council statement Russia proposed recently that was rejected by the United States.

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7:45 p.m.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has urged members of an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group to provide increased military and logistical support to help his security forces combat the extremists.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, al-Abadi pledged to press ahead with reforms while continuing to fight the IS at the same time.

He also called for contributions by states and organizations to help repair infrastructure ravaged by years of war.

Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq startled the United States on Sunday when Iraq's military said the countries will begin sharing "security and intelligence" information to help combat the Islamic State group. Al-Abadi made no reference to that in his speech.

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6:10 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have met for a third time this week to discuss the crisis in Syria and have swapped ideas about potential options for moving ahead with a political transition in the country.

Kerry and Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday that they would be examining the proposals in the coming days. They also said the United States and Russia would also begin military-to-military discussions as soon as Thursday in order to prevent any accidental clashes between the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Russian forces. Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria Wednesday against what it said were Islamic State targets but U.S. officials and Syrian opposition figures have said the strikes hit non-Islamic State areas.

Kerry expressed concern that Russia was not targeting the Islamic State but rather hitting positions of moderate foes of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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5:20 p.m.

The leader of Libya's parliament is telling a U.N. gathering his internationally recognized government will not accept any peace deal that steps back from what the majority of parties have agreed on so far.

Ageila Saleh said Wednesday his government remains committed to dialogue with a rival Islamist-backed government in the west of the oil-rich North African country.

The U.N. has said the final draft of a peace deal was handed to both sides in recent days.

The international community is pressing both sides to quickly form a national unity government, which is believed to be the first step toward addressing the migration issue and the growing presence of the Islamic State group.

Saleh also wants a final peace deal draft that doesn't "reward" those who seized the country's capital, Tripoli.

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4:15 p.m.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has opened a high-level meeting on the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War II with a warning that "the future does not belong to those who seek to build walls or exploit fears."

The U.N. chief told ministers from dozens of countries on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting that they have a responsibility to chart a clear path forward that will reap the benefits of migration "with creativity, compassion and courage."

He said the best solution is for refugees to return home to safe countries and called for stepped-up efforts to prevent and stop wars and persecution.

But Ban said conflicts will not end quickly and the world must be better prepared to deal with the thousands of migrants seeking safety.

He said the top priorities must be saving lives, giving refugees the right to seek asylum without forcibly returing them to their homelands, treating all migrants with dignity and respect, and improving reception centers and asylum systems.

On a key issue facing Europe, Ban said countries must increase the number of refugees they accept "and share equitably in this effort."

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3:30 p.m.

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam is appealing for assistance from the international community to help deal with the overwhelming number of Syrian refugees in his country.

He says public infrastructure and hosting communities have been exhausted "to the limit" while international assistance has been steadily declining because of so-called donor fatigue.

The tiny Mediterranean country is sheltering more than 1.5 million displaced Syrians, amounting to one third of its population.

Salam, addressing the U.N. General Assembly meeting Wednesday, called on world powers to "stop fighting with Syrian blood and on Syrian territory," urging them to end the ongoing massacres in that country.

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2:30 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is "not an impossible dream" and can be achieved despite recent setbacks and tensions over holy sites in Jerusalem.

Speaking Wednesday at the United Nations to a meeting of donors to Palestinian development projects, Kerry said the United States is committed to backing negotiations that would lead to a two-state solution. He said now that the Iran nuclear deal has been concluded, the Obama administration will resume efforts to get the two sides talking again.

"This is not an impossible dream," he said. "It's achievable but only with pro-active, genuine efforts to reach out and address each other's concerns, to listen to each other, to figure out what is at the bottom of each other's needs and work diligently in order to try to pave the way forward."

Kerry's comments came shortly after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared to the U.N. General Assembly that he is no longer bound by agreements signed with Israel, and called on the United Nations to provide international protection for the Palestinian people. It was Abbas' most serious warning yet that he might walk away from engagement with Israel and dissolve the Palestinian Authority, although he stopped short of accompanying his threat with a deadline.

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2:14 p.m.

Without naming Saudi Arabia, Iran's foreign minister has blamed it for abetting the rise of extremism in the Mideast and Afghanistan but says his country is ready to cooperate with its regional rival to combat the scourge.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke Wednesday of Saudi "complicity" in the creation of al Qaida and the Taliban. He also accused the Saudis of "irresponsibility" in the mass deaths last week of pilgrims died in the stampede near Mecca. Iran appears to have lost the largest number of pilgrims, with 239 dead.

Addressing the U.N. Security Council, Zarif said that Iran is nonetheless determined not to "live in the past" and wants to engage in "serious dialogue" with all countries in the region in fighting the extremists.

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2:10 p.m.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is proposing a new peace initiative with historical rival India.

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Sharif called for the demilitarization of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, and for both countries to respect a 2003 cease-fire on the de facto frontier where there has been an increase in cross-border firing.

Sharif also called for an unconditional withdrawal of forces from the Siachen Glacier, often dubbed the world's highest battlefield, where the two militaries have been arrayed against each other for years.

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2:04 p.m.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has raised the flag of the state of Palestine at the United Nations for the first time with a promise that it will be raised soon in Jerusalem, "the capital of our Palestinian state."

More than 300 ministers, diplomats and well-wishers crowded into the rose garden at U.N. headquarters Wednesday where a temporary flagpole had been erected for the ceremony.

The Palestinians campaigned for a General Assembly resolution that was overwhelmingly approved on Sept. 10 allowing U.N. observer states to fly their flags alongside those of the 193 U.N. member states. The Holy See and Palestine and are the only two U.N. observer states.

Abbas told the crowd it was a "historical moment" on the Palestinian road to independence and said "the dawn is coming" when the state of Palestine will be free. He declared that in the future Sept. 30 will be "the day of the Palestinian flag."

He then raised the black, white, green and red flag among cheers and shouts of "Peace! Peace! Palestine."

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1:45 p.m.

Turkey's prime minister says more must be done to protect Syrian civilians and urged the international community to set up safe areas within Syria to help stem the flood of refugees into his country.

Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey has done "more than its share" to resolve the Syrian refugee crisis, saying Turkey now shelters 2 million Syrians and is home to more refugees than any other place in the world.

In his address to the U.N. General Assembly Davutoglu pledged "Our doors will remain open. Our hearts will remain open," to the continuing flood of refugees fleeing chaos and civil war in neighboring Syria. Davutoglu called on fellow leaders "to act swiftly to provide (Syrians) with safety in their homeland, a safe area, free from aerial bombardment by the regime," a reference to the idea of establishing no-fly zones over Syria that has gained momentum during talks over the last week.

Davutoglu also called for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, saying "Anyone thinking of a solution to the Syrian crisis must think of a Syria without Assad, a vicious tyrant killing indiscriminately with chemical weapons and barrel bombs."

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12:30 p.m.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declares that he is no longer bound by agreements signed with Israel.

In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, he says that as Israel's refusal to commit to the agreements signed "render us an authority without real powers."

Given that, Abbas says, "we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements."

It was Abbas' most serious warning yet to Israel that he might walk away from engagement with Israel and dissolve the Palestinian Authority. He stopped short of accompanying his threat with a deadline.

He had threatened to drop a "bombshell" in the speech — prompting speculation he would sever ties with Israel over its settlement expansion and other hardline policies.

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11:40 p.m.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni says his country believes in a political solution to the war in Syria.

Speaking with journalists at the U.N., he says the transitional process should allow Syrians to "free themselves from dictatorship" but without creating a void that can be filled by ISIS or Al-Nusra, an al-Qaida affiliate.

Gentiloni said there could be "no rapid military solution to this enormous humanitarian tragedy,".

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11:10 a.m.

France's foreign minister says his country is ready to cooperate with Russia and others in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, but under three conditions that include an end to violence against Syria's civilians and the exit of President Bashar Assad.

Laurent Fabius told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that the collective way forward must include a "broad-based negotiation toward a political transition that doesn't lead to maintaining in power Syria's hangman."

Fabius told the council that Russia has just circulated the outlines of a draft council resolution that seeks to coordinate global efforts against terrorism in Syria and elsewhere.

The French minister said another condition for cooperating with other states would be "absolute clarity" about who the countries are fighting.