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UNITED NATIONS – World leaders gathered Saturday for the fourth day of the annual ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly to give an address on the state of their countries and the world. Here are highlights from some of the newsworthy speakers:
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The president of the transitional government in conflict-torn Central African Republic said the country has great hopes the new U.N. peacekeeping mission will help restore security and promote development. Catherine Samba-Panza told the U.N. General Assembly that the success of the U.N. force will hinge on the involvement of the country's security and defense forces at its side. Months of fighting between a mostly Muslim rebel coalition and a Christian militia have left at least 5,000 people dead in one of Africa's least developed countries. Samba-Panza said that after a July 23 cease-fire agreement it is time to bring all parties together to consider "a new republic and pact to recast the Central African state."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he's serious about holding peace talks with Pakistan but also criticized the neighboring country, insisting it must create an "appropriate atmosphere" for the dialogue. In his first U.N. address since taking power in May, Modi said that dialogue needs to take place "without the shadow of terrorism." Modi invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration, but India in August withdrew from planned talks between their foreign secretaries as Pakistan wanted to consult first with separatists in the disputed region of Kashmir. In his U.N. address Friday, Nawaz criticized India's withdrawal from the talks, saying the world saw it as a "missed opportunity." India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir since independence in 1947. India accuses Pakistan of assisting militants that fight against Indian security forces.
The president of South Sudan said his government is "unwaveringly committed" to ending the conflict with his former vice-president that has killed thousands. Salva Kiir urged the international community to pressure rebels led by political rival Riek Machar to sign what he called "a crucially important document" that forms the basis for resolving the crisis peacefully and inclusively. He said he has already signed the protocol agreement along with regional leaders. South Sudan has been wracked by violence since December. Government troops continue to fight the rebels despite a cease-fire agreement in January which was reaffirmed in May. Kiir said his government has "unreservedly honored" the peace agreements and accused the rebels of violating them "too many times."