The Latest: Calls for reform of UN rights body

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The Latest: Calls for reform of UN rights body
The Latest: Calls for reform of UN rights body

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The Latest on the U.N. General Assembly (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

The United States, Britain and the Netherlands are calling for reforms to the U.N. Human Rights Council to prevent countries that routinely commit abuses from becoming members.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hosted a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. Generally Assembly on the need to reform the 47-nation council.

The three diplomats said in a statement that the council loses credibility “if serial human rights violators are continuously allowed to serve on it.”

Human rights group last year protested the candidacies of Russia and Saudi Arabia. Russia was voted off the council amid criticism of its actions in Syria. But Saudi Arabia’s election was a foregone conclusion since it was running unopposed for its regional seat.

6:30 p.m.

Egypt’s president is making an impassioned pitch for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, calling for both sides to take advantage of a “rare” opportunity to achieve the elusive goal.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi broke from his prepared remarks to the U.N. General Assembly in classical Arabic to address Israelis and Palestinians informally in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, saying they should take advantage of an opportunity that “may not be repeated.”

El-Sissi is calling on the Palestinians to unite behind a common goal and to accept coexistence with Israel in peace and security.

He also is reassuring Israelis by citing Egypt’s long-established peace with their nation which has lasted over 40 years, saying that “amazing” step can be repeated with the Palestinians.

“Do not hesitate,” el-Sissi said addressing the Israeli public. “We are standing with you to make this step a success.”

El-Sissi also is calling on U.S. President Donald Trump to take advantage of an opportunity that could “write a new page of the history of mankind by establishing peace in this region of the world.”

4:49 p.m.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says as long as Iran seeks to destroy Israel it will face no fiercer enemy than the Jewish state, which will take action to prevent Tehran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria.

He told the U.N. General Assembly’s opening ministerial session on Tuesday that Israel will also act to prevent Iran from producing weapons in Syria or Lebanon “to be used against us” and “from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border.”

Netanyahu again called for the “dangerous” nuclear deal with Iran to be scrapped, saying if nothing changes Tehran will follow North Korea and produce hundreds of nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu started his speech to world leaders on a positive note, saying Israel is in the midst of “a great revolution – a revolution in Israel’s standing among nations.”

Netanyahu said this is happening because “so many nations have woken up to what Israel can do for them” as a leader in innovation, technology, and in recognizing its “exceptional capabilities in fighting terrorism.”

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3:33 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord “a mistake.”

At a news conference following his address Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, Macron said that he and Trump “disagree on climate.”

Still, the French leader called the United States a “historic partner” of France – “now and in the future.”

Macron says he will continue to talk with Trump “in the hope that he comes back” to the climate accord. He called the accord “a moral, economic and social necessity.”

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3:05 p.m.

The emir of Qatar is condemning the boycott that three Gulf countries and Egypt have imposed on his country, saying it fits one of the definitions of terrorism.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have been trying to destabilize his country by enforcing an “unjust” embargo that includes food and medication.

They began the boycott of gas-rich Qatar in June, accusing the tiny Gulf emirate of supporting terrorism.

Tamim says his country is open to resolving the conflict through dialogue without preconditions and based on what he is calling “mutual commitments.”

The emir also used his speech to the General Assembly to touch upon regional crises, saying that Israel continues to impede a full and lasting peace by rejecting the Arab peace initiative of 2002 and by continuing its settlement policies in “occupied territories.”

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1:13 p.m.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron is forcefully defending the Paris climate accord, telling the U.N. General Assembly that although it can be improved, “it will not be renegotiated.”

In a half-hour speech Tuesday, Macron said he “profoundly respects” U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord, adding that “the door will always be open to them.”

Macron said the planet “is taking its revenge on the madness of man.”

He said the Paris accord will not be renegotiated, adding that it can be enriched with new contributions, “but we won’t go back.”

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12:35 p.m.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says the United Nations needs to keep providing sufficient funding for peacekeeping operations, which have been coming under scrutiny.

Buhari address to the General Assembly on Tuesday was his first trip outside Nigeria since he returned from August after three months away for medical treatment.

Twice this year, the 74-year-old president has spent several weeks in London for an undisclosed ailment. He stood steadily on the podium while delivering his roughly 12-minute speech.

Buhari says the international community needs to work together to stop Islamic State extremist fighters from infiltrating into areas of Africa’s Sahel region where “response capacity is weak.” He says the U.N. must provide “adequate funding” and other support to regional initiatives and peacekeeping operations “in a predictable and sustainable manner.”

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12:05 p.m.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is raising eyebrows with his claim at the U.N. that deforestation in the Amazon declined 20 percent the last year.

Temer made the statement Tuesday while addressing the U.N. General Assembly.

Annual deforestation in the Amazon is tracked by Brazil’s National Institute of Spatial Research, which has not yet released data for the August-July fiscal year.

In 2015-2016, the most recent available data, the Amazon was cut at the fastest rate since 2008. That represents nearly 3,100 square miles (8,000 square kilometers) of chopped forest.

Jaime Gesisky, of the environmental group WWF Brazil, says Temer’s claim amounts to “empty words” without numbers to back it up. Gesisky also says that even if there was a drop compared to the previous year, claiming a reduction is disingenuous since the overall context is increased cutting.

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11:50 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he isn’t about to quit trying to convince President Donald Trump to reverse himself on his decision to exit the climate accords – and thinks he will succeed.

Macron said ahead of his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that “I deplore the American decision, but I continue to dialogue with President Trump because I’m convinced that in the end he will understand that his interest, the interest of Americans, is in the Paris Accord.”

Trump has said the climate deal was unfair to U.S. business.

Macron tried to convince him to change his mind during Trump’s July visit to Paris. Trump was noncommittal then, saying that “if it happens that will be wonderful, and if it doesn’t that will be OK, too.”

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11:05 a.m.

Brazilian President Michel Temer says the U.N. has represented “hope and prospects for a more just world” for the last 70 years and is needed now more than ever.

In an opening speech Tuesday to the General Assembly, Temer says that “in this time in history marked by so much uncertainty and instability, we need more diplomacy – not less.”

But Temer said it is imperative to reform the U.N., particularly to expand the powerful Security Council to align it with the reality of the 21st century. Brazil is part of a group with Germany, India and Japan seeking permanent seats on the council.

Temer’s U.N. appearance comes after a difficult week for him at home, when he was charged with obstruction of justice and leading a criminal organization. On Monday, he dined with U.S. President Donald Trump and other Latin American leaders to discuss the situation in Venezuela.

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10:25 a.m.

The head of the U.N. General Assembly is painting a somber picture of the world and urging more focus on preventing conflict as debate begins at the annual meeting of global leaders.

Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak said Tuesday that many people have become disillusioned with the U.N. in a world grappling with conflict, poverty, terrorism and global warming. But, he adds, others believe in the U.N.’s potential to help.

Lajcak says the U.N. needs to put more emphasis on warding off conflicts, rather than reacting to them. The Slovakian says that means “recalibrating” to respond better to crises, not seeking more money or help from member countries.

He’s also calling for a more people-centered approach in dealing with terrorism and what he calls the “highly divisive” issue of migration.

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9:15 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning the world’s leaders that the threat of a nuclear attack is at its highest level since the end of the Cold War and “fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings.”

In his first state-of-the-world report since taking the reins of the United Nations on Jan. 1, Guterres put “nuclear peril” as the leading threat, warning that “we must not sleepwalk our way into war.”

The U.N. chief told Tuesday’s opening of the General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting that millions are living in fear “under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests” of North Korea.

His message on “fiery” rhetoric was implicitly directed at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but also at the United States and President Donald Trump, who has warned of “fire and fury” if North Korea does not back down.

Guterres said a solution to the North Korea nuclear threat must be political and stressed to leaders: “This is a time for statesmanship.”

Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales addresses the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, at the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to reporters during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Amir of Qatar, addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
United Nations General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak, of Slovakia, addresses the 72nd meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and his wife Sara Netanyahu speak to Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon as they arrive to the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Russia Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia, right, listen as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, right, and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin listen as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria waits to address the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
President Donald Trump speaks to the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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