Alexis Tsipras, the Prime Minister of Greece, addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Latest: Greece calls for better cooperation on migrants

September 28, 2018 - 1:50 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The latest on the United Nations General Assembly (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

Greece is using its address to world leaders to chastise some European neighbors for turning their backs on migrants who continue to pour into Europe by land and by sea.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says Friday that Greece is dealing with the highest refugee flows since World War II and notes that Greeks have "opened their arms to incoming migrants, showing the world what solidarity means."

He says Greeks did not "give in to nationalistic and xenophobic voices that called for pushbacks in the sea or a superficial asylum process aimed at rejecting everyone."

Most migrants land in Italy and Greece and those countries feel abandoned by their EU partners. Member states like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are unwilling to share the burden and refuse to accept refugee quotas.


12:30 p.m.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is criticizing growing political, economic and social turmoil around the world, saying the situation has only worsened since the start of the century.

The 93-year-old Mahathir told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that when he last spoke to the forum in 2003, shortly before retiring, "I lamented how the world had lost its way."

Mahathir returned to politics this year and says that "if at all, the world is far worse than 15 years ago."

He cites the trade fight between China and the United States, saying that "the rest of the world is feeling the pain."

And he criticizes the government of Myanmar for its treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority and accuses the rest of the world of failing to act.

Mahathir asked fellow leaders: "Nations are independent, but does this mean that they have a right to massacre their own people?"


11:55 a.m.

The U.N.'s deputy humanitarian chief says Myanmar hasn't "substantively and concretely" addressed the issues that led more than 725,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee, and therefore conditions aren't right for their repatriation from Bangladesh.

Ursula Mueller told a high-level event at the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting Thursday that the government "must take real steps forward, clearly demonstrating a commitment to immediate change on the ground."

In her speech, circulated Friday, Mueller said the Rohingya are now "the world's largest stateless population." She urged donors to respond to the refugee crisis, stressing that the appeal for Bangladesh is only 38 percent funded.

Mueller also urged Myanmar's government to dismantle segregated facilities for the roughly 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar and end the marginalization and "deplorable conditions" many are forced to live in.


11:45 a.m.

China's foreign minister says "now is a crucial time" for the implementation of a deal with Iran to prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Wang Yi told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the 2015 deal was endorsed at the time by the global body's powerful Security Council.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has since yanked its support for the deal and is re-imposing sanctions on Tehran.

The agreement is still supported by China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, and Wang says it "serves the common interests of all parties concerned and the international community at large."

He warns that if the deal isn't implemented, "the international nuclear non-proliferation regime will be undermined" and the authority of the Security Council will be challenged.

Wang is calling for talks to resolve the issue "through dialogue and consultation."


11:20 .m.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says his country encourages North Korea "to continue moving along the right direction toward denuclearization."

Wang said Friday the issue on the Korean peninsula "has seen a major turnaround thanks to the efforts of all parties concerned."

He told the U.N. Security Council that China has worked to contribute its part to improve relations between North Korea and South Korea, as well as efforts to facilitate dialogue between Pyongyang and the United States.

Wang said and "effective settlement of the issue requires complete denuclearization as well the establishment of a peace mechanism."


11 a.m.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi says relations between nations should be "based on credibility, not on willful revocation of commitment" as his country and the United State remain locked in a dispute over trade.

Wang told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that China spent more than a decade negotiating its membership of the global trading system and has "fulfilled its promises and integrated itself into the world financial system."

He stressed Beijing's commitment to multilateralism, adding that "unilateral moves will bring damage to all", a reference to resolving disputes within the framework of the World Trade Organization.

Wang criticized the imposition of tariffs and insisted that "China will not be blackmailed or yield to pressure."


10:30 a.m.

Two of Macedonia's closest neighbors are welcoming the country's upcoming referendum on changing its name.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the agreement between Greece and Macedonia to resolve their long-standing dispute over the name is an example of a "new spirit" between countries in the region.

Greece objects to Macedonia's current name, saying it implies a claim to territory in the Greek province with that name and to the heritage of the birthplace of revered ancient warrior Alexander the Great.

Albania's President Ilir Meta likewise welcomed the agreement in his speech to world leaders Friday, contrasting with Macedonia's own president, who told the assembly a day earlier that voters should abstain from Sunday's referendum on renaming the country "North Macedonia."


9:30 a.m.

Civil war-torn South Sudan is calling on the international community, "including those who are skeptical, to give peace a chance" as the latest agreement to end the conflict moves forward.

First Vice President Taban Deng Gai told the U.N. gathering of world leaders Friday that the East African country is on schedule to hold "free and fair" general elections after a 36-month transition period under the new agreement.

The United States and others are wary of this latest deal, which returns rebel leader Riek Machar as President Salva Kiir's deputy. Fighting between their supporters sparked the civil war in late 2013.

A new report this week gave a striking new estimate of the conflict's toll: 382,900 deaths, with roughly half blamed on violence and many others on disease.

"As brothers and sisters we have hurt each other," the first vice president told the U.N.


9:00 a.m.

Moscow is expected to use its address to world leaders to enshrine Russia as a counterweight to U.S. influence in areas from the Mideast to Venezuela and the Korean peninsula.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held a flurry of bilateral meetings at the United Nations this week and has loudly defended Russia's strategies in meetings at the Security Council.

Syria has been Russia's running theme, as Moscow seeks to manage the end of the civil war and ensure a long-term foothold in the region.

Russia is Syrian President Bashar Assad's longtime patron and wants Western financing for Syria's reconstruction while maintaining the upper hand in discussions on Syria's political future.


7:00 a.m.

The two countries that the United States has accused of interfering with its elections are taking take their turns at the podium at the United Nations' annual gathering of world leaders.

Major powers China and Russia — neither of which sent their most senior leader to the U.N. General Assembly — will put forth their foreign ministers to tell their stories.

The accusations against China came this week from U.S. President Donald Trump, who said he has evidence but so far has not released any. In contrast, Russia has been the focus of a special counsel investigation, which Trump has lambasted as a political "witch hunt."

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