- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The latest developments from the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders at which they’re tackling major crises like the refugee issue and crises in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere:


2:30 p.m.

A dozen U.N. agencies have issued an unprecedented joint call for countries to end violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Tuesday’s statement comes as world leaders gather to address an annual U.N. meeting.

The agencies for human rights, refugees, children, health, food and more say they are “seriously concerned” that millions of people around the world face widespread human rights violations.

The call comes shortly before the U.N. secretary-general convenes a meeting on including LGBT individuals in an ambitious new set of global development goals for the next 15 years.

The statement says violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals have far-reaching effects on society and even economic growth. And it urges the 76 states with laws that criminalize same-sex acts between consenting adults to repeal them.


2:05 p.m.

Japan says it is providing $1.5 billion for assistance of refugees and stabilization of communities facing upheaval in the Middle East and Africa.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the aid Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly.

Abe said Japan is providing $810 million this year for emergency assistance of refugees and internally displaced persons from Syria and Iraq, triple what it gave last year.

He said Japan is preparing about $750 million more “to help build peace” Middle East and Africa, including aid for water supply and sewage systems in Iraq.


1 p.m.

The Ukrainian president is issuing a strong condemnation of Russia’s aggression against his country, urging the international community to restrain Moscow’s veto power in the U.N. Security Council.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Petro Poroshenko said Russia wants to rebuild its former empire by creating “belts of instability” and financing “terrorists” in Ukraine’s Crimea and eastern Donbas region.

He asked how Russia could hope to create a coalition against Mideast terrorism “if you inspire terrorism right in front of your door?”

The president supported the initiative of his French counterpart Francois Hollande to restrain the veto right of the U.N. Security Council permanent members “in case of mass atrocities.”

Russian-backed separatists have been fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine since April 2014, and at least 8,000 people have been killed in the conflict.


12:40 p.m.

The leader of Guyana has charged that Venezuela was being a bully as the two countries bring their long-running border dispute to the United Nations.

President David Granger says Venezuela has “pursued a path of intimidation and aggression” as it presses its claim to an area of jungle and rivers that amounts to about 40 percent of Guyana’s territory.

Granger said the claims by the larger and more powerful Venezuela have prevented Guyana from seeking to exploit the area known as the Essequibo for its potential mineral and oil resources.

The Guyanese president spoke Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly meeting and appealed to the world body to mediate the dispute.

Leaders of the two countries discussed the issue Sunday on the sidelines of the annual gathering.


12:30 p.m.

Cuba’s foreign minister says the pace of normalizing relations with the United States will depend on President Barack Obama using his executive powers to substantially modify the decades-old U.S. economic embargo and the U.S. entirely lifting it.

Bruno Rodriguez told a press conference after Obama held talks with Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday that the U.S. president’s executive decisions adopted so far” have a very limited value, a very limited scope.”

He said Obama’s executive powers “are very broad, and they deal with tens of areas” - and Cuba expects the president to adopt measures to substantially modify the embargo.

Rodriguez said there was an “an opportunity of making significant advances in the normalization of bilateral relations during Obama’s administration.”

Rodriguez read a statement on the Obama-Castro meeting which said the Cuban leader reiterated that for the two countries to have normal relations, “the blockade that has caused damages and hardships to the Cuban people and affects the interests of American citizens should be lifted.”


12:01 p.m.

A high-level meeting on Yemen during a U.N. global gathering repeats an urgent call for humanitarian aid access but makes no mention of the latest civilian deaths or who might be to blame.

Tuesday’s statement calls the humanitarian situation in the Arab world’s poorest country “appalling.” The meeting, chaired by Britain, the U.N. humanitarian chief and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, noted that “civilian suffering has reached unprecedented levels,” with thousands killed.

It calls on “all parties to the conflict” to bear their responsibilities but does not go as far as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who on Monday said “most of the casualties are being caused by airstrikes.”

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike on Monday hit a wedding party in Yemen, and medical officials Tuesday said the death toll has risen to 131 - making it the deadliest incident in the civil war.


11:50 a.m.

The United States is treating Kosovo as a state during President Barack Obama’s high-level meeting on countering extremism.

A seating chart for Tuesday’s meeting shows Kosovo among the states attending the meeting, even though it is not a U.N. member state.

Kosovo came under U.N. and NATO administration after a 1999 NATO-led air war halted a crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists, but its final status was left in question.

Kosovo’s predominantly ethnic Albanian leadership declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has been recognized by 111 countries.

Serbia rejects its secession, and its close ally Russia has blocked Kosovo from becoming a U.N. member.

Both Russia and Serbia also attended Obama’s meeting.


11:30 a.m.

The French foreign minister is reaffirming his country’s intention to continue carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Laurent Fabius said that France gives “a clear promise” to deflect the threat posed by Islamic State militants by targeting their positions in Syria.

Six French jet fighters targeted and destroyed an Islamic State training camp in eastern Syria in a five-hour operation on Sunday. The multiple airstrikes were the first in Syria by France as it expands its mission against IS, until now centered in Iraq.

“We do it efficiently, which is different from others, who only talk about fighting ISIL,” Fabius said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. “We have to fight them not only in the media, but also on the ground.”


11:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama says Nigeria, Tunisia and Malaysia are the newest members of the U.S.-led international coalition to defeat the Islamic State militant group.

Obama made the announcement while leading a special United Nations summit on countering violent extremism.

More than 60 countries, including Arab nations, are working together and launching military airstrikes in an attempt to wipe out IS, which has taken control of large regions in Iraq and Syria.

Obama says defeating the Islamic State will take time, but that the militants ultimately will lose because they have nothing to offer but suffering and death.


11 a.m.

Key officials at the United Nations General Assembly are urging the Somalia army and African Union forces to maintain offensive operations against al-Shabab Islamic extremists retake priority areas of the strife-torn country.

A communique issued Tuesday from their meeting on the sidelines of the assembly’s annual ministerial meeting called for stepped up support for the military operations which should also aim to degrade al-Shabab’s military capabilities, secure main supply routes, and create space to build a peaceful nation.

The meeting - co-chaired by Somalia’s president and the heads of the United Nations, the African Union Commission, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab League - “recognized that military efforts alone will not restore security.”

They called for a comprehensive approach to counter violent extremism in Somalia and the surrounding region.

The participants expressed alarm at the fragile humanitarian situation in Somalia where almost three million people are dependent on aid to meet their basic needs. At the same time, they commended Somalia for welcoming refugees and returnees from Yemen where a separate conflict is raging.


10 a.m.

The U.N. secretary-general has scolded South Sudan’s president as the world watches whether the latest shaky peace deal in his country will hold, saying, “I hope you will not betray and disappoint us.”

Ban Ki-moon spoke at a high-level meeting on the conflict in the world’s youngest country during a U.N. gathering of world leaders.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who annoyed the international community by skipping a similar U.N. meeting last year, spoke Tuesday via videoconference from his country.

Kiir said “we have already made considerable progress in implementing the agreement” that he signed with several reservations late last month.

Kiir signed under heavy pressure from the United States, which had championed the country’s fight for independence from Sudan.

Kiir accused the opposition of continuing to violate a cease-fire.

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