Libya, Palestinian Statehood Top UN General Assembly Agenda

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 1:27 pm (UTC-5)
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Hurried diplomatic efforts to rally votes for Palestinian statehood, and words of support for the transitioning Libyan state marked the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly's annual meeting.

More than 100 world leaders gathered Tuesday at the United Nations in New York City for the 66th annual session of the General Assembly.

The flag of the Libya's interim government was raised outside the United Nations Tuesday as world leaders convened to discuss international support for post-Gadhafi Libya. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired the Libya Contact Group meeting, where he said the challenges Libya faces are “large.”

U.S. President Barack Obama assured the Libyan leaders that they will have a “friend and partner” that will assist them in developing security, providing humanitarian aid and peacefully transitioning to democracy.

Libya was represented by National Transitional Council chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

The question of U.N. membership for a Palestinian state is the other major issue dominating the conversation at the United Nations. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki called on the United States to rethink its promise to veto the Palestinian's bid to be recognized as an independent state.

Despite strong resistance from the U.S. and Israel, al-Malki expressed confidence that his government could win the necessary nine of 15 votes from the Security Council. President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver his application on Friday, when he is also expected to address the assembly.

Later Tuesday, members of the Group of Eight are scheduled to meet to create a framework for economic and political aid to Arab governments making a transition to democracy. Known as the G8 Deauville Partnership, countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and the newest partner, Libya, will join with ministers of the G8 and several other Middle Eastern countries to address the evolving political situation in the region.

Other issues like non-communicable diseases and nutrition, sustainable energy and desertification are being addressed Tuesday in a series of high-level meetings.