The Latest: Turkish Cypriot leader hopeful as talks proceed

AP News
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Posted: Oct 02, 2015 7:45 PM

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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Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci says an agreement on reunifying the divided Mediterranean island can be reached in months rather than years if talks with the Cypriot president continue at the same pace and with the same political will as they have in recent months.

Akinci told reporters after meeting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday that he and President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, have agreed to intensify negotiations starting in November and "if we work hard during November and December, then January, I believe we can achieve this goal."

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup to unite the island with Greece. A peace deal would unlock regional co-operation on the eastern Mediterranean's energy potential.

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7:30 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met alone Friday evening during a U.N. gathering of world leaders, and the State Department says they discussed the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.

Kerry and Zarif sent their advisers out of the room to meet alone. They left separately and did not comment.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the two were "taking advantage of their presence in New York before they both departed."

Earlier in the week, it was Kerry who introduced Zarif to President Barack Obama for a handshake when they ran into one another on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Iran's official IRNA agency has reported that Zarif came upon Obama "accidentally."

Kerry and Zarif also met earlier in the week.

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6:40 p.m.

Myanmar's foreign minister says "peace and stability has been restored" in its western state where Rohingya Muslims have long been persecuted.

Wunna Maung Lwin addressed a U.N. gathering of world leaders Friday and did not mention the Rohingya by name.

The Rohingya are considered Bangladeshis by the government, and in Rakhine state, where most of them live, their rights are stripped and their movement severely restricted.

They are also barred from voting in this year's Nov. 8 election, for the first time since independence from Britain, and were disqualified as candidates.

The State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry met with Myanmar's foreign minister Friday and stressed the importance of "ensuring full citizenship and freedom of movement for the Rohingya."

The election is considered a test of Myanmar's reforms.

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4:50 p.m.

The Emirati foreign minister has hailed advances made by Yemen's pro-government forces, including the capture of a key encampment for Shiite Houthi rebels near the Bab al-Mandab straight a day earlier.

Bab al-Mandab is the strategic southern entrance to the Red Sea and the gateway to the Suez Canal. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan says the capture "further marks the end of the control of the rebels and their supporters."

Al Nahyan spoke Friday at the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

Thousands of Emirati soldiers are taking part in a Saudi-led coalition to help pro-government forces against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Houthis have been in control of the capital Sanaa since last September and are at war with the internationally recognized government of Yemen.

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4:30 p.m.

Britain's ambassador to the United Nations says Russia's draft Security Council resolution seeking to unite global efforts against terrorism has no future.

In response, Russia's U.N. ambassador warns that the work of the U.N.'s most powerful body "will come to a standstill" if council members oppose something just because Russia proposes it.

Russia circulated the draft earlier this week during a U.N. gathering of world leaders, shortly after the country began airstrikes in Syria. The draft calls on countries to cooperate with governments where the fight against extremist groups is occurring — a reference to Syria's government.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft on Friday told reporters that the strikes are targeting opponents of Syria's president, meaning that a "long-term solution to this conflict is even further off than we previously thought."

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2:45 p.m.

Somalia's prime minister says the government wants to liberate all remaining territory held by the Islamic militant group al-Shabab in the coming year and have its own forces take over the country's security from an African-led force in the next two to three years.

Omar Sharmarke said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday that he believes both goals are achievable.

He said al-Shabab "has lost a lot of ground" and "we are the only country that consistently has decreased this radicalization."

Sharmarke said Al-Shabab carries out a major attack every two to three months, like the suicide bombing at the gate of Somalia's presidential palace on Sept. 21, while in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots there are sometimes several militant attacks a day.

11:22 a.m.

The United Nations says Somalia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, making the United States the only country that has not done so.

The U.N. statement Friday noted that Somalia is the 196th nation to ratify the international human rights treaty that is meant to protect children's rights to health, education and freedom from discrimination.

The U.S. has never been able to get enough required support from Congress to ratify the treaty. Some members of Congress fear that such treaties could overrule existing U.S. laws.

The U.N. said Somalia's signing was significant because the east African country, which is trying to rebuild after a long civil war, has "one of the highest under-5 mortality rates in the world."

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10:47 a.m.

The interim president of Burkina Faso has praised his countrymen for showing "an unprecedented level of patriotism" in opposing the coup that saw him detained recently.

President Michel Kafando addressed the U.N. annual gathering of world leaders less than a week and a half after his transition government was reinstalled. The elite president guard had arrested him on Sept. 16 but stepped down after pressure from the West African regional bloc, Burkina Faso's military and demonstrating citizens.

Kafando singled out the country's youth for their opposition to the coup and lamented the deaths during the turmoil.

He called on the international community's support and pledged that free and transparent elections will be organized shortly.

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9:39 a.m.

Leaders including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are urging Libya's two rival governments to come together and make the final step toward a peace deal.

But talks between representatives of the two governments on the sidelines of a U.N. gathering of world leaders have not yet resulted in a signed agreement.

Ban told Friday's high-level meeting that a final draft is in the two sides' hands, and "the time for reopening the text has passed."

Kerry told the meeting that he hopes the process can be "completed in a very small number of days."

The oil-rich north African country has slid into turmoil since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.