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Financial crisis and poverty reduction to dominate UN agenda

September 22, 2008 10:27 IST

The ongoing financial crisis, poverty reduction, reforms including expansion of the Security Council, uneven progress in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and Darfur conflict are likely to dominate the agenda of the
United Nations General Assembly that begins on Tuesday.

More than 170 heads of state and governments, foreign ministers and senior diplomats will participate in the discussion lasting about two weeks.

President George W Bush will deliver his last address to the 192-member Assembly on Tuesday morning in which he will give perspective of his administration on the issues facing the world and also attempt to set the agenda for the world body for the coming year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to address the Assembly on September 26, a day after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. That would give Singh a chance to reply should Zardari raise issues which need a response.

With inter-government negotiations on expansion of the 15-member Council set to begin before February 28, Singh is expected to make a strong case for permanent membership for India.

Singh is slated to have a series of bilateral discussions during his stay, the highlight of which would be his first summit with Zardari at which the issue of terrorism is expected to figure prominently.

With tensions between the United States and Russia rising over Georgia, the addresses of American and Russian leaders will be closely watched.
The World leaders have already started converging on New York and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had bilateral discussions with some of them, including American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, ahead of the annual session.

Among his many other meetings on Sunday was with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now the Representative for the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, which comprises the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States.

They discussed the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and Blair's work in that regard, the world body said.

Both recognised the progress that had been made in improving the situation on the ground but stressed that more still needed to be done.

Ban also met with the Presidents of Finland, Burkina Faso, Paraguay, Austria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Marshall Islands, Cape Verde and Slovenia.

Dharam Shourie in United Nations
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