Iranian leader Ahmadinejad set to address major UN summit on second day of talks. PM Emil Boc also attends meeting.
UNITED NATIONS – World leaders were meeting yesterday at the United Nations in New York for the second day of talks on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The goals, created in 2000, aim to reduce poverty and hunger and improve health standards around the world by 2015, BBC News reports.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has insisted the goals can be achieved. In his opening speech on Monday to more than 140 world leaders, Ban said the global economic downturn was no reason to abandon the targets and that they “should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor”.
During their speeches, leaders pledged to step up efforts to meet the MDGs. But, as expected, they offered little in the way of new resources to help the world’s poorest countries, Reuters said. The United Nations agrees the world will meet the goals to halve global poverty and hunger by 2015 but is behind on other goals which cover improving child education, child mortality and maternal health; combating diseases including AIDS, and promoting gender equality and environmental sustainability. Rising incomes in emerging economic powers like China is the main reason for progress in tackling poverty there, while population growth has set back efforts in Africa and India.
The World Bank said it would increase spending on education by USD 750 M over the next five years. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose government cut development aid in the face of a fiscal crisis and high unemployment, said countries were grappling with difficult decisions as they try to revive economic growth.
He urged the world to consider other ways to fund programs that tackle poverty, hunger and climate changes. “We need to make more effort to look for alternative financing sources … that aren’t as vulnerable as the budgets of developed countries when faced with crises like the one we’re seeing today,” he said. Both he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for some form of financial tax to raise money to combat poverty, an idea already rejected by the International Monetary Fund and many Group of 20 major developed and developing nations.
On the second day of the summit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were among those set to hold speeches. According to CNN, Ahmadinejad is on a public relations offensive this week in New York, addressing the session on tackling world poverty, giving interviews and speaking Thursday in the assembly’s general debate. The Iranian president told ABC News on Sunday that, after he helped free American hiker Sarah Shourd, there should be some payback from U.S. President Barack Obama. “I believe that it would not be misplaced to ask that the U.S. government should make a humanitarian gesture to release the Iranians who were illegally arrested and detained here in the United States,” he said.
PM Emil Boc arrived in New York yesterday to attend the summit, along with FM Teodor Baconschi and Environment Minister Laszlo Borbely. The premier was also scheduled to meet with various officials, including UN General Assembly head Joseph Deiss and Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad.