Palestinian President Vows to Press for UN Recognition

Posted September 19th, 2011 at 10:08 pm (UTC-5)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to press ahead for U.N. membership for a Palestinian state by submitting an application to the Security Council on Friday, a move the United States has promised to block.

Mr. Abbas arrived at United Nations headquarters in New York Monday and outlined his plan to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. chief responded by calling on the Palestinians and Israelis to resume negotiations within what he called “a legitimate and balanced framework.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters the United States also is urging a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as a way to avoid a diplomatic crisis over the Palestinian membership bid.

The annual meeting of the General Assembly opens Tuesday, with more than 100 world leaders gathered to discuss not only the Palestinian application but also the future of Libya in the post-Gadhafi era.

Last week, the Security Council voted overwhelmingly to turn over Libya's General Assembly seat to the country's National Transitional Council, effectively recognizing the end of Moammar Gadhafi's decades-long rule.

U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to meet with an NTC leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, and will offer U.S. support for Libya's new government. Mr. Obama also is scheduled to meet with Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, the world's newest country.

On Monday, the General Assembly opened a two-day meeting, focusing on the world's biggest killer, non-communicable diseases. Some 36 million people worldwide die each year from preventable and treatable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart and lung disease.

Secretary-General Ban addressed the meeting, attacking businesses that market processed foods that the World Health Organization says are high in salt, trans fats and sugar. He called on the corporations that sell these foods to children to “act with the utmost integrity. ” But he added, “the prognosis is grim.”

The WHO says nearly 80 percent of these non-communicable diseases occur in low and middle income countries, where they have a debilitating socio-economic impact. With a large percentage of the workforce sick or dying, national economies in these countries lose billions of dollars in output, and millions of families are pushed into poverty.

This is only the second time the General Assembly has focused on a health issue. A decade ago it took up the AIDS epidemic, leading to huge progress in preventing and treating the virus around the world.