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Arroyo: World needs strong United Nations

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By Joel Guinto, Reuters
First Posted 23:20:00 09/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stressed the need for a “strong” United Nations and “rigorous international cooperation” in the face of hard economic times.

Speaking before the 63rd United Nations General Assembly in New York Tuesday morning (late Tuesday evening in Manila), Arroyo said that while her administration has instituted tough economic reforms, the Philippines “cannot do it alone.”

The session opened amid intensive efforts in Washington between the Bush administration and US lawmakers to craft an unprecedented $700 billion bailout spurred by the worst upheaval in the US financial system since the Great Depression.

“We need a strong UN as never before. We need rigorous international cooperation as never before,” Arroyo told more than 120 heads of state, including Presidents George W. Bush of the United States and Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

“Economic uncertainty has moved like a tsunami around the globe, wiping away gains, erasing progress, not just here in Manhattan, but also in the many islands of the Philippines,” she said in a speech broadcast live on state-run television in the Philippines.

Arroyo likened the global crisis to the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, which she said, turned out to be an “oncoming train.” The crisis was “real and profound,” she said, and it would take “time to and perseverance” to recover from.

“We must go on building bridges among allies around the globe,” she said, citing the example of the Philippines reaching out to Vietnam to ensure the security of rice supply amid a shortage earlier this year.

She said her administration was also working to achieve food self-sufficiency and energy independence.

With investors still worried and the crisis spreading internationally, other economic powers are also feeling the pinch. Poor countries fear this could lead to cuts in the aid budgets of their biggest donors.

Speaking just a few miles from Wall Street, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said financial turmoil jeopardizes efforts to reduce world poverty and demands a new approach with less “uncritical faith in the ‘magic’ of markets.”

His words may have resonated with delegates of leftist governments who have long opposed the free market orthodoxy that the Bush administration has advocated.

“The global financial crisis endangers all our work,” Ban told the General Assembly. “We need to restore order to the international financial markets.”

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former labor leader, also sounded a dire warning about the threat to the world economy in his speech to the assembly and said the United Nations should be the forum to discuss solutions.

He blamed “irresponsible” speculators. “We must not allow the burden of the boundless greed of a few to be shouldered by all,” he said.

“Only decisive action by governments, especially in countries where the crisis is focused, will be able to control the disorder that has spread through the world’s financial sector.”

Issues of war and peace, normally the mainstay of UN business, were also on high on the agenda.

Bush reasserted US accusations that Iran and Syria sponsor terrorism — charges that they deny — and urged UN member states to enforce sanctions against Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs. “We must remain vigilant against proliferation,” Bush said.

Foreign ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States are planning to meet on Thursday to discuss the possibility of drafting a fourth UN sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program.

Bush’s appearance marked his eighth and final speech to the United Nations, an organization whose approval he chose to do without when he ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Ban stressed the need for “global leadership” as he pressed world leaders not to pursue narrow national interests, saying, “I see a danger of nations looking more inward, rather than toward a shared future.”

“In this new world, our challenges are increasingly those of collaboration rather than confrontation,” he added.

“Nations can no longer protect their interests, or advance the well-being of their people, without the partnership of the rest.”

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-09-23T16:31:47+00:00UTC09bUTCTue, 23 Sep 2008 16:31:47 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm09

Posted in Uncategorized

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