Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Latest: Brazil president: Media lying about Amazon fires

September 24, 2019 - 10:48 am

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations (all times local):

10:30

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is dismissing what he says are media lies about fires in the Amazon and says the rain forest is not being devastated.

Bolsonaro told a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations Tuesday that many fires occur naturally in the forest during dry weather, though he did also acknowledge some are intentionally set.

Satellite data from the Brazilian Space Agency has shown a sharp increase in deforestation and forest fires in the past year. In August, the agency issued an alert that fires in the Amazon had increased 84% in the first seven months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018.

Reports of the fires drew widespread attention — and condemnation of the Bolsonaro administration's policies on the environment.

Bolsonaro said: "The Amazon is not being devastated nor is it being consumed by fire as the media misleadingly says."

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10:15

The U.N. General Assembly president is telling world leaders they must prioritize taking action "for poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion."

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande told the annual U.N. gathering on Tuesday that achieving the goals requires cooperation in financing and in sharing experience.

"Without doubt, the challenges posed by health pandemics, terrorism, displacement, climate change, as well as illiteracy and poverty will not be resolved by individual countries as they all require focused cooperation to stem," he said.

The former Nigerian ambassador said "poverty and food shortages around the world have been exacerbated by climate change," warning that the repercussions of not tackling climate change poses endangers the future of the world.

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9:16 a.m.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning global leaders of the looming risk of the world splitting in two with the two largest economies, the United States and China, creating rival internets, currencies, financial rules "and their own zero sum geopolitical and military strategies."

The U.N. chief said in his "state of the world address" Tuesday to the General Assembly's annual gathering of heads of state and government that the risk "may not yet be large, but it is real."

He said "we must do everything possible to avert the Great Fracture" and maintain a universal economy in a multipolar world.

Guterres painted a grim picture of a deeply divided and anxious planet facing a climate crisis, "the alarming possibility" of a Gulf conflict, spreading terrorism spreading and rising inequality.

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12:05

World leaders are convening at the annual U.N. General Assembly. They're grappling with climate change, regional conflicts and a potential dispute in the Middle East that could impact the entire planet.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will open the proceedings. He'll be followed immediately by the traditional first speaker — Brazil, represented by its new president, Jair Bolsonaro — and the United States, represented by President Donald Trump.

The United Nations was designed to promote a multilateral world. But it has struggled in the face of increasing unilateralism by nations that favor going it alone.

The event unfolds against the backdrop of flaring tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis say Iran was responsible for an attack earlier this month on two oil facilities, which Iran denies.

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