Walter Wisniewski
VOA News
September 19, 2008

A new session of the United Nations General Assembly has opened in New York, with a sharp attack on the United States by the assembly’s president, former Nicaraguan foreign minister Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann. VOA’s Walter Wisniewski reports from our New York newscenter.

The past year’s General Assembly of the United Nations has come to a close, and the new, 63rd session of the General Assembly is now formally open. World leaders will address the annual U.N. meeting next week, but the Assembly’s incoming president caught diplomats’ attention Tuesday with his opening remarks, a scathing attack on U.S. policies.

The General Assembly president, former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, mentioned the United States by name only a few times, but made it clear who his target was.

D’Escoto says it is “undeniable” that some members of the Security Council have “an addiction to war,” and he says they are threatening international peace and security. In a scarcely veiled reference to President George W. Bush’s administration, d’Escoto also said no nation has the right “to decide on its own which states are sponsors of terrorism, and which are not.”

“By now, over 1.2 million people have died as a direct consequence of that aggression and occupation,” d’Escoto said about the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The 75-year-old diplomat, who is a Roman Catholic priest, told reporters later he intends to try to reform the U.N. to give the 192-member General Assembly a stronger role, compared to the Security Council, whose permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – have veto power over U.N. decisions.

D’Escoto says the world has changed since 1945, when the United Nations was founded, but the U.N. has not kept pace. He predicts “soul-searching” and frank debate at the General Assembly in the weeks and months to come.

“This will be an interesting year, and I will be making an appeal from the very depth of my heart and my experience,” he said.


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