The Latest: North Korea's FM presses US for peace treaty

AP News
Posted: Oct 01, 2015 7:45 PM
The Latest: North Korea's FM presses US for peace treaty

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):


7:30 p.m.

North Korea is offering what it calls "dramatic improvement" in the Korean peninsula's security situation if the United States acts to replace the armistice there with a peace treaty.

Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong's speech on Thursday to the U.N. General Assembly contained no surprises and very little of the icy rhetoric the nuclear-armed but isolated nation often uses in its statements to the world.

Ri told the gathering of world leaders that North Korea is willing to hold "constructive dialogue" to prevent further conflict with South Korea if the U.S. can come up with the signing of a peace treaty. He called the offer "the best option we can afford."

The two Koreas remain technically at war because the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.


6:45 p.m.

Somalia's prime minister is proposing a far-reaching plan for national reconstruction in the aftermath of a civil war of two and a half decades.

Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke used the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday as a platform to promote Somalia's "Grand Development Plan," which he compared to a Somali Marshall Plan.

The initiative is focused on rebuilding social and physical infrastructure, creating jobs and opportunities for youth and attracting foreign investment.

The prime minister reminded the U.N. gathering of world leaders that although al-Shabab insurgents controlled Somalia four years ago, today "the sound of bullets has been replaced by the noise of construction."

Somalia has been trying to rebuild after establishing its first functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and then turned on each other, plunging the impoverished nation into chaos. Despite major setbacks in 2014, al-Shabab continues to wage a deadly insurgency against Somalia's government and remains a threat in the East African region.


5 p.m.

Burundi says it has entered a new political phase after months of turmoil — that of dialogue.

Vice President Joseph Butore told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that a new national dialogue commission would help the troubled country move on from months of protests and a coup attempt.

He also repeated President Pierre Nkurunziza's call for civilians to turn in any weapons in their possession.

Despite the conciliatory words, Butore denounced the "hidden agenda to destabilize the country" and blamed certain media, non-governmental organizations and even fellow African countries for playing a role.

The U.N.'s top human rights official on Monday announced an alarming upsurge in arrests, detentions and killings in Burundi since the beginning of September, with bodies found almost daily on some streets of the capital.


4:35 p.m.

The South Sudanese vice president is calling on the international community to support the world's youngest nation by funding development projects and revoking sanctions imposed on its officials as a result of a civil war that has killed thousands and displaced more than 1.6 million people.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Vice President James Wani Igga announced that a "regrettable war" triggered by "unjustified internal power feuds" has been ended.

He also reminded international donors about many pledges that were "never delivered," stressing that it would help his country recover.

Fighting broke out in oil-rich South Sudan in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his ex-vice president Riek Machar of trying to oust him. That sparked ethnic attacks and fighting that was supposed to end with Kiir's reluctant signing of the agreement on Aug. 26. Machar signed on Aug. 17. Both sides have reportedly violated the cease-fire since then.


3:45 p.m.

Iraq's prime minister says that he would "welcome" military strikes by Russia in his country if Moscow made such a proposal — but that hasn't happened yet.

Haider Al Abadi told France 24 television that "If we get the offer, we (will) consider it. In actual fact, I would welcome it," he said, noting that he has been in contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that Russia has no plans to extend its airstrikes to Iraq.

In the Iraqi prime minister's interview made available on Thursday, Haider said he would be "amazed" if Russian planes now carrying out air strikes in Syria were going after Syrian opposition rebels rather than the Islamic State group. He said it's in Russia's interest to go after IS sites because there are "more than 2,000" Russians IS fighters, making them a "national threat." They would "cause havoc" were they to return to Russia.

Haider also made a reference to the sparring between Washington, Moscow and others over finding a solution to the Syrian conflict that broke out in full once Russia began military moves in Syria, Iraq's neighbor.

"Our aim is to bring everybody to fight Daesh, not to fight among themselves," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.


2:45 p.m.

India says it is open to peace dialogue with Pakistan but demands the rival nation must "give up terrorism."

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj delivered a tough response on Thursday to a four-point peace proposal made by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the U.N. General Assembly the previous day.

"We don't need four points, we need just one. Give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk. This will resolve all the problems," Swaraj said.

Among Sharif's proposals was the formalization of a fraying 2003 cease-fire along the disputed frontier in Kashmir.


2:30 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister slammed Russia's "lone decisions" to take direct military action in the war-ravaged nation of Syria, reminding the U.N. gathering of world leaders that a concerted global effort is needed to put an end to the "lethal stalemate" in Syria where "slaughter knows no end."

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that neither "supposed eternal truths nor national interests must be allowed to obstruct" steps toward defusing Syria's conflict.

Steinmeier also urged the world to support Germany's efforts to address the global challenges posed by migration, the civil war in Syria and religious extremism.

He said that "nobody is investing so much hope in this spirit of good neighborliness" as millions of people fleeing from turmoil.

The German minister stressed that the principle of good neighborliness comprises "humanity and compassion" but also presupposes active political responsibility, respect for borders and sovereignty.


2:15 p.m.

Officials say Central African Republic's elections that had been scheduled for Oct. 18 have been delayed by a resurgence of sectarian violence, but they still hope the elections will be held by the end of the year.

The country's foreign minister and the U.N. peacekeeping chief spoke to reporters Thursday after a high-level meeting on the crisis in the impoverished, landlocked country.

Renewed deadly violence between Christians and Muslims in recent days has disrupted a political transition process.

Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous called the transition "imminent" but acknowledged that the Oct. 18 date for elections is "not feasible."

Foreign Minister Samuel Rangba blamed supporters of two former leaders for the new surge in violence.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told the meeting the violence was "designed to destabilize the country."


1:45 p.m.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is vowing to continue to seek justice for the victims of Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over Ukraine last year.

Najib told the U.N. General Assembly that Malaysia was "extremely disappointed" that Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution in July to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting down Flight MH17.

"We will continue to seek justice through other legal options because we owe it to the families of those who perished in this outrageous crime," Najib said, without elaborating.

Ukraine and the West suspect the plane, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels. All 298 people on board died. Russia denies that.


1:15 p.m.

The U.N. humanitarian agency says nearly 70,000 people have now been displaced by deadly violence between Christians and Muslims in the capital of Central African Republic.

The statement came Thursday as the U.N. secretary-general addressed a high-level U.N. meeting on the crisis.

Ban Ki-moon pleaded for international help for the country. The killing last week of a Muslim man whose body was left near a mosque in Bangui re-ignited sectarian violence.

At least 42 deaths have been confirmed in Bangui since sectarian clashes erupted Saturday, including a teenage boy who was decapitated. However, the head of the national Red Cross said that death toll is far from complete as its workers have not been able to get into some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

A transitional government is supposed to lead the country to elections on Oct. 18.

Ban said, "It is clear that the latest violence in Bangui is designed to destabilize the country and jeopardize the transition process."


1 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is criticizing the nuclear deal with Iran as empowering Tehran to foment radicalism in the Middle East while leaving the Islamic Republic close to the threshold of being able to make atomic arms.

Netanyahu says the billions of dollars that will flow to Iran through the deal that lifts sanctions will help it arm proxies in the region and foment terror worldwide.

In an address Thursday to this year's meeting of world leaders at the U.N., Netanyahu said Israel will not allow Iran to "sneak in ... to the nuclear weapons club."

Israel has long warned that it could strike militarily at Iran as a last resort if it deems that it is close to finishing work on a nuclear bomb.

Iran says it has no interest in such weapons.


11:50 a.m.

Greece's prime minister is drawing the world's attention to the economic, migration and security crises battering his country.

Sounding a familiar tune during his address to the U.N. General Assembly, the newly re-elected Alexis Tsipras charged that economic reforms his nation has been called to implement resulted in a "devastating social cost" and deepening economic and fiscal woes.

"What we faced was a firm commitment of some to the idea that Greece must exit the eurozone," Tsipras said, decrying austerity measures and proposing to replace them with a growth agenda "to protect the most vulnerable members of society."

Greece has depended on bailout loans since 2010.

The prime minister also told the U.N. gathering that Greece was "taken aback" by "unprecedented migration flows," which have brought more than 300,000 people, most of them fleeing violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Libya, to Greece's shores.

Tsipras praised his compatriots for showing "solidarity" with migrants and refugees and giving them food and shelter. But he also slammed racism, xenophobia and force used to repel people seeking safety.


10:45 a.m.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is counting on the leaders of Pacific island nations to raise their voices and build momentum for an agreement to combat climate change.

He expressed hope that the world's nations will finalize "a new universal and meaningful climate change agreement" at a conference in Paris in December which would be "an important turning point." But he said it would not be "an end point for global climate action."

Ban said dangers to vulnerable small islands persist, citing this year's El Nino phenomenon which has caused strong droughts and cyclones in the Pacific.

He told a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly ministerial meeting that he has been doing everything possible to raise the financing they need to mitigate climate change.


10:30 a.m.

Haitian President Michel Martelly is praising his country's progress now that long-awaited legislative elections were finally held this summer.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, the president called the Aug. 9 legislative elections "an important stage in the consolidation of democracy."

"The Haitian people proved their political maturity and their capacity to take charge of their destiny," he added.

The legislative elections had been postponed for nearly four years due to a political showdown between Haiti's executive and opposition, and they have been billed as a crucial test of the country's electoral system ahead of a presidential vote in late October.


10:19 a.m.

The chairman of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is pledging to spare no effort to preserve the country's democracy and multi-ethnic diversity as it seeks to enter the European Union.

The pledge by Dragan Covic comes as Serb authorities are trying to challenge the authority of the national court over the Serb half of the country, a move the U.S. and EU say would threaten Bosnia's sovereignty and security.

The peace agreement that ended Bosnia's civil war two decades ago split the country into two semi-autonomous mini-states along ethnic lines, one shared by Muslims and Croats and the other for Serbs.

Covic told the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial that Bosnia is intensively working on reforms to improve social and economic conditions and the rule of law.