South Korea's President Moon Jae-in arrives to address the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Latest: Korea leader sees 'miraculous' move toward peace

September 26, 2018 - 2:11 pm

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

2:05 p.m.

South Korea's president is trumpeting the "miraculous" moves toward peace that have occurred in recent months on the Korean Peninsula as negotiators try to settle a decades-long nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Moon Jae-in said at the U.N. General Assembly that he has both "a sense of urgency and excitement" over diplomacy that has "removed the shadow of war."

Moon has met three times this year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. President Donald Trump met in June with Kim, and they are trying to set up another summit.

Moon saluted Trump and Kim's "courage" and asked for the international community to "respond positively" to Kim's denuclearization commitments.

Amid the diplomacy there is widespread skepticism that Kim will truly give up weapons built at great cost and seen by Pyongyang as a security guarantee.


2 p.m.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro says he's arrived in New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, where his government has been sharply criticized. 

Maduro appeared Wednesday on state television in flight, saying he's prepared to defend his country.

U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier in the day he's willing to meet with Maduro if it would help ease suffering in the South American nation.

Several Latin American countries and Canada earlier in the day asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Venezuela's government for alleged crimes against humanity.


1:20 p.m.

The United Nations secretary-general is blaming a lack of leadership for the world's failure to take tough decisions needed to stop runaway climate change.

Antonio Guterres bluntly told leaders in New York Wednesday that unless current emission trends of greenhouse gases are reversed by 2020, it will be impossible to meet the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

The target was set in the 2015 Paris climate accord, but the U.N. says government commitments so far only achieve a third of cuts needed.

Guterres said "we still lack strong leadership to take the bold decisions needed to put our economies and societies on the path of low-carbon growth and climate-resilience."

He called for ending fossil fuel subsidies, a shift toward renewable energy and realistic carbon pricing.


1 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is warning that dismantling the Iran nuclear accord would threaten global efforts to halt North Korea's nuclear program.

Lavrov and others defended the 2015 Iran deal at a U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday on non-proliferation that was chaired by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord, arguing it wasn't tough enough on Iran, and has begun imposing new sanctions.

Lavrov said dismantling the accord would unleash new tensions in the Middle East and "be counterproductive for the efforts underway now to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. These efforts are something we welcome and support."

He said Russia is working with China and European partners on ways to preserve the Iran deal despite the U.S. pullout.


12:40 p.m.

Iran's foreign minister is calling the reimposition of U.S. sanctions that followed U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from a multinational nuclear deal with Iran an act of "unprecedented vengence."

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comments Wednesday at a side meeting on eliminating nuclear weapons at the U.N. General Assembly.

Zarif issued a statement calling the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal "unlawful and unjustified." He also criticized Trump for pushing for even more modern nuclear weapons.


12:35 p.m.

With U.S. President Donald Trump listening, Bolivia's President Evo Morales has lashed out at the United States and accused Trump's administration of meddling in Iran and Venezuela.

Morales also said the U.S. government has shown "contempt" for multilateralism and has no interest in upholding democracy.

Trump was presiding over a U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday as Morales said that if the U.S. upheld democracy "it would not have financed coup d'etats and supported dictators" or threatened democratically elected governments as it has in Venezuela.

He also charged that "the United States could not care less about human rights or justice," citing its alleged promotion of the "use of torture" and separation of migrant parents and children who were put "in cages."

Trump made no comment when Morales finished and called on the next speaker, Ivory Coast's vice president.


12:30 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to travel to North Korea next month for talks meant to restart stalled nuclear disarmament diplomacy and to set up a second summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert made the announcement Wednesday after Pompeo met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York.

The statement says Kim invited Pompeo to visit "to make further progress on the implementation" of agreements that were made during a summit in June in Singapore between Kim and Trump.

There has been deadlock since the June summit, and South Korea and others are hoping another Trump-Kim summit could push forward nuclear disarmament efforts. Many are skeptical about Kim's sincerity to disarm.


12:20 p.m.

Yemen's president is calling on the international community to put pressure on Iran to stop its meddling in the internal affairs of his country.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday that Iran and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group have been supporting Yemen's Shiite rebels, known as Houthis.

He says Iran has been financing and providing Houthis with "weapons, missiles and experts."

Iran has repeatedly denied such accusations.

He also blames the rebels for the failure of the U.N.-led peace talks.

The civil war that started in March 2015 pits Iran-backed Houthis against a Saudi-led coalition backing the country's internationally recognized government.

The war has left at least 10,000 people dead and has devastated impoverished Yemen, turning it into the world's worst humanitarian crisis.


12:15 p.m.

China's Foreign Minister is saying that his country has nothing to do with interference in any other nation's internal affairs. His comments came at a U.N. Security Council meeting after U.S. President Donald Trump leveled accusations that the Chinese had been "attempting to interfere" in the 2018 U.S. elections.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi says that the Chinese "do not and will not interfere" in any country's domestic affairs. He also said he refused to accept any "unwarranted accusations" against China.

After chairing his first Security Council meeting, Trump made a point of saying in front of world leaders that "regrettably," his government found that China was trying to interfere. Trump says it's because he's the "first president ever" to challenge China on trade.

Wang looked on, stone-faced, as Trump made his statement.

China's longstanding policy, stated repeatedly over the years, is noninterference in other nations' internal affairs — and it is quick to cite that noninterference belief when any other nation criticizes it over everything from politics to human rights.


12:05 p.m.

Six countries from the Americas say they are asking the International Criminal Court to investigate Venezuela's government for alleged crimes against humanity. It's the first time that member countries have referred another country to the Netherlands-based U.N. court.

Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Canada made the announcement on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

The court has already opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that since April 2017 Venezuelan government forces "frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations," and abused some opposition members in detention.

Wednesday's move could broaden the scope of the existing preliminary probe. The countries accuse Venezuela of several crimes including murder, torture and unjust imprisonment.


11:35 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says his meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho was "very positive."

Pompeo made the comment on Twitter on Wednesday after meeting with Ri at the U.N. General Assembly. The meeting comes as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un work to set up a widely expected second summit to restart stalled diplomacy meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons.

Pompeo said that "much work remains, but we will continue to move forward."

Kim made denuclearization vows last week in a summit with the South Korean president in Pyongyang, but there's still skepticism over his sincerity to relinquish weapons that many believe are the only major guarantee of his continued authoritarian rule.


11:25 a.m.

The president of Lebanon is accusing the international community of a double standard when dealing with the Middle East.

In his address to world leaders at the U.N. Wednesday, President Michel Aoun criticized the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem and the capital of Israel while cutting aid to Palestinians and to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

Aoun said that "history has taught us that injustice leads to war. ... Absence of justice can lead to violence and terrorism."

He added that, "Unfortunately, international political approaches to the Middle East still lack justice and there are double standards in this regard. The Palestinian question is an example of that."


11:20 a.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending the International Criminal Court after it came under attack by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trudeau says Canada continues to believe that the Hague-based court is a "useful and important way of promoting an international rules-based order."

Canada is set to join with five South American nations in signing a formal request on Wednesday for the ICC to investigate the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro. It's the first time Canada has sought to refer another country to that court.

Trudeau told reporters that Canada is using all the ways it can to address the "catastrophic" situation in Venezuela, including through the ICC.

Trump told the U.N. on Tuesday that as far as America is concerned, "the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority."


10:55 a.m.

In a direct response to U.S. President Donald Trump, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom says "patriotism" isn't the solution to Tehran's nuclear program. And she says her country will be standing by the European Union's support for the Iran nuclear deal that Trump has abandoned.

Trump told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that "America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."

On Wednesday, he's chairing a U.N. Security Council meeting on non-proliferation.

Speaking ahead of that meeting, Wallstrom asked hypothetically, "What's the alternative to the Iran deal?"

In her words, "We have tried sanctions over the years. We tried isolation, and it only gave the most conservative forces in Iran more power," she said.

Wallstrom said the EU is working on how to set up a financial facility that will help companies do business with Iran following the U.S. imposition of sanctions.


10:15 a.m.

Ghana's president is defending massive Chinese investment across Africa in the face of concerns about a possible "re-colonization of the African continent by a new power."

President Nana Akufo-Addo says "it is obvious to us that the development trajectory we had been on for many decades is not working."

He adds, "We are trying a different one, and we would appreciate the support and goodwill of the world."

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, he offered the vision of "an Africa Beyond Aid."

Ghana has one of Africa's fastest-growing economies. The United States and others have expressed concern that Chinese loans to African nations for infrastructure projects will trap the countries in debt.

Ghana's leader responded that "rich and well-established countries have been paying regular visits to China" as well.


10 a.m.

The second day of speeches by world leaders at the United Nations has begun with more calls for multilateralism.

Namibia's president, Hage G. Geinob, said Wednesday he is alarmed to see the world drifting "ever more worryingly towards unilateral action." He said that goes against the fundamental tenets of democracy.

He said that "democracy ... is by far the best system that enables key values of the United Nations, necessary for sustained inclusive development." And he added, "It is for this reason that we must embrace multilateralism with greater urgency, to counter unilateral action."

He also praised Monday's opening speech by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned against rising polarization and populism.

Earlier, Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela said countries must work together to stem migratory movements that "can only be resolved by removing the root causes that cause them to leave their countries."

The speeches praising multilateralism run counter to the theme being pushed by U.S. President Donald Trump, who openly scorned the idea of "globalism" and has been touted his "America First" agenda.


8 a.m.

More world leaders are stepping up to the podium at the U.N. General Assembly, but the lion's share of the day's attention will be down the hall where U.S. President Donald Trump will be chairing the Security Council.

It'll be Trump's first experience in leading a session of the U.N.'s most powerful body, where the U.S. currently holds the rotating presidency. It's using that perch to double down on criticism of Iran.

While Wednesday's meeting of the council will be addressing the issue of nonproliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Trump himself has left little doubt that it'll be another chance to target Tehran.

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