The Latest: Congo’s president says elections ‘irreversible’

September 26, 2018 GMT

              Brazil's President Michel Temer addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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Brazil's President Michel Temer addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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Brazil's President Michel Temer addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The latest on the United Nations General Assembly (all times local):

11:20 p.m.

President Joseph Kabila of Congo is stressing that holding elections on Dec. 23 is “irreversible” and denouncing any interference in the electoral process from foreign governments.

Kabila became Congo’s leader in 2001 after the assassination of his father and by law could not run again after his mandate ended in December 2016. But he has remained in office because of delays in holding elections, which sparked deadly protests.

He told the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that “everything will be implemented to guarantee the peaceful and credible nature of these elections ”

Kabila warned that the United Nations will not be “an organization for all if the intrusive interference of some governments in matters undoubtedly in the domestic policy of the states” continues. He did not name any countries.

He also called for an “effective and substantial” start to the withdrawal of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo.



4:40 p.m.

Germany and Saudi Arabia have agreed to patch up their strained diplomatic ties, after Berlin’s top diplomat expressed regret for recent “misunderstandings” that angered the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia pulled its ambassador from Germany last year after then German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel suggested Riyadh was engaging in “political adventurism” in the Middle East.

Current Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters Tuesday that “our relations have witnessed misunderstandings which stands in sharp contrast to our otherwise strong and strategic ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We sincerely regret this.”

Speaking after the two met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir responded by inviting Maas to visit the kingdom “at the earliest opportunity so that we may begin a new phase of close cooperation.”


5:10 p.m.

Smirks and smiles, but no signs of shock: German diplomats appeared bemused by President Donald Trump’s latest swipe at their country.

In a wide-ranging speech Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump took time to reiterate his criticism of Germany’s planned undersea gas pipeline from Russia.

After the U.S. president’s warning that “Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course,” cameras showed German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gently shaking his head, while senior diplomats smiled.



4:50 p.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says the current round of nuclear diplomacy with North Korea is “completely different” than the many failed deals that have frustrated past negotiators.

Moon is fresh off a dramatic summit in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and now is at U.N. General Assembly meetings this week taking on the widespread skepticism that Kim is sincere in his vows to abandon nuclear weapons.

Moon told an audience at a New York think tank Tuesday that it was “only natural that we have plenty of suspicions regarding the true motivations” of Kim after a series of increasingly powerful weapons tests last year by North Korea had many fearing war.

But he says this time is “completely different” because it’s being driven by Trump and Kim.


4:40 p.m.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has used his time speaking to the U.N. General Assembly to rail against a U.N.-sponsored commission that has investigated corruption in his Central American nation, including a pending case against the president himself.

Morales said Tuesday that the commission violated Guatemala’s constitution, its laws and the agreement under which the body was created.

In his 24-minute speech, Morales highlighted actions he considers excessive, such as the use of preventative detention that he says he results in some suspects spending years in custody.

Morales reiterated previous calls for the U.N. secretary-general to replace commission chief Ivan Velasquez, with whom he has repeatedly sparred.

Earlier this month Morales barred Velasquez from returning to Guatemala from a work trip to the United States.

He also recently announced that he would not renew the commission for another two-year mandate.

The commission and Guatemalan prosecutors have brought numerous corruption cases in recent years including a probe of Morales over more than $1 million in allegedly illicit campaign contributions. The president denies wrongdoing.


3:35 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. will give another $48 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who have fled their crisis-wracked nation.

Pence made the announcement Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly. The money with go to several U.N. and non-governmental agencies helping Venezuelans in countries including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, which have seen a wave of migrants as Venezuela’s economy has neared collapse.

The U.S. had already sent nearly $50 million in such aid, as well as $23.5 million to help Colombia absorb incoming Venezuelans.

Pence also urged Venezuela to accept foreign humanitarian aid to help cope with shortages of food and medicine.

Meanwhile, a bi-partisan group of U.S. senators announced a bill to expand humanitarian relief for Venezuelans and increase pressure of the country’s socialist government. It calls for efforts to seek additional aid from other nations, financing to help “democratic actors and civil society,” and expanded efforts “to freeze and recover the corrupt financial holdings of Venezuelan officials.”

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four top members of the Venezuelan leadership, including first lady Cilia Flores.


3:15 p.m.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he wants a more “constructive” relationship with Russia, even as the western alliance is taking measures to respond to Moscow’s increasing military assertiveness.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Stoltenberg said dialogue with Russia is needed “to try to defuse tensions” and “avoid miscalculations.”

Speaking shortly before meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sideline of the U.N. General Assembly, he cited military interference in Ukraine and Georgia, and its support for Syria’s Bashar Assad, as evidence of Russia’s military buildups beyond its borders.

Stoltenberg said NATO is responding by deploying battle groups to its eastern members for the first time, and will soon hold the biggest exercise in the Norwegian Sea in a generation, involving land, air and naval forces.


3:05 p.m.

Iran’s president has accused the United States of trying to overthrow his government, and he’s rejecting the idea of bilateral talks with Washington.

President Hassan Rouhani issued a sharp rebuke to the U.S. at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He accused President Donald Trump’s administration of “economic terrorism” and a having “plan for overthrowing” the government in Tehran.

Rouhani’s remarks came after Trump criticized Iran in his own speech at the assembly. He later predicted U.S. sanctions would push Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program.

Rouhani said his country would “overcome” the sanctions.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the multinational 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. His administration has since reinstated sanctions.

Meanwhile, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton issued a warning Tuesday that Iran would have “hell to pay” if it defies the U.S.


2:40 p.m.

Iran’s president says U.S. sanctions against his country amount to “economic terrorism” that won’t sway Iran.

Iran’s Hassan Rouhani told world leaders at the General Assembly on Tuesday that the sanctions amount to an “economic war” that’s disrupting trade and will harm people beyond Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has reinstated sanctions on Iran after pulling out the U.S. of the multinational 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Trump says the deal was a “horrible” agreement that didn’t do enough to contain “aggression” from Iran.

In remarks earlier Tuesday, Trump predicted that the pressure from renewed sanctions would force Iran back to the table to negotiate.

But Rouhani noted that Iranians has endured sanctions before and “can overcome this difficult phase as well.”


2:20 p.m.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is condemning “recklessness and disregard of some states for international values and institutions” hours after U.S. President Donald Trump lambasted global governing and sharply criticized Iran to world leaders.

Speaking Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, Rouhani launched into leaders who believe they can “ride public sentiments and gain popular support through the fomenting of extremist nationalism and racism” and through what he called “xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition.”

Trump, in his own speech, said Americans “reject the ideology of globalism” in favor of what he called “the doctrine of patriotism.”

He also blasted what he called Iran’s “corrupt dictatorship.


2:05 p.m.

Qatar’s ruling emir has told the United Nations that the ongoing boycott targeting his country is “paralyzing” Gulf Arab nations.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday that the boycott by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has only caused “our Arab region to remain hostage to marginal differences.” The boycott began in June 2017,

He said that his country remains open to “unconditional dialogue.” However, the dispute has only hardened over time and affected Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Sheikh Tamim said: “We hope that we will all transform the council’s current plight into an opportunity to reforming it.”


1:10 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is assailing self-interested world leaders and saying that “nationalism always leads to defeat.”

Speaking Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, Macron urged fellow leaders, “Don’t accept our history unraveling,” and added, “Our children are watching.”

He acknowledged that the old world order has failed to solve widespread inequality, and he called for a “new world order with a human face.”

Macron noted there has been increasing skepticism toward the U.N., European Union and other international bodies and said that “you may be tired of multilateralism.” But he urged against complacency and isolationism.

Macron drew wide applause in the hall for his impassioned plea for global cooperation, which came soon after U.S. President Donald Trump frustrated some by defending his America-first policies.


1:05 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says it’s time for authorities to stop telling women “what to do with their bodies” and wants international cooperation to stop violence against women.

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Macron said “it’s time to put an end to all of this,” to stop allowing women to be victims of sexual and other abuse and instead to give women “their due place” in world leadership.

Macron urged other leaders gathered in New York to join him in an initiative to “guarantee across the board” an end to violence against women.

Macron has been outspoken against sexual misconduct since the Me-too movement emerged last year, though his government has been criticized for not going far enough to protect women’s rights.

Macron is joining Canada and some other countries in launching a new initiative this week to get more girls in school around the world. Millions of girls around the world never go to school and millions more drop out at a young age.


1 p.m.

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno is telling world leaders at the United Nations that using a wheelchair has made him see the world and its social barriers in a new way.

Speaking Tuesday at the annual General Assembly meeting, Moreno recalled the searing pain he suffered after being shot in the back and paralyzed from the waist down during a 1998 robbery.

But he said experiencing life from a wheelchair makes people “discover other realities, other worlds” and see various roadblocks that societies put in people’s paths. Beyond physical barriers, he pointed to xenophobia, racism, inequality and other social conditions.

He is exhorting leaders not to let “misery and injustice remain a part of our everyday landscape.”

Moreno advocated for the rights of the disabled around the world while service as the U.N. envoy on disability and accessibility from 2013 to 2016.


12:40 p.m.

The U.N. special envoy for Syria says October is going to be “a very important month” both for the last major rebel-held stronghold in Idlib and for U.N.-led efforts to try to move toward peace.

Staffan de Mistura spoke briefly to The Associated Press on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday about two key issues in the seven-year-old Syrian conflict.

Last week, Russia and Turkey reached a deal to avert an offensive against Idlib and de Mistura said October will be very important “for the verification of Idlib.”

De Mistura told U.N. reporters last week that he wants to move forward “expeditiously” with drafting a new constitution for Syria. He said there is agreement on delegations from the government and opposition to draft a new constitution — but not yet on the delegation the U.N. put together representing Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women.


12 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the U.N. risks becoming an organization with “a reputation for failure” and catering to just five world powers unless it’s restructured, particularly in the Security Council.

Erdogan told world leaders at the General Assembly on Tuesday that the U.N. has “moved away from the capacity to meet the expectations of humanity through peace and welfare.”

He referenced Bosnia, Rwanda and the plight of the Palestinians and said the world body must be restructured if it is to succeed.

In his words, “We believe that when we say the world is greater than five, we are becoming the voice of the common conscience of the human race.” That’s a reference to the U.S., China, Russia, France and Britain, the Security Council’s five permanent members and the only ones with veto power.


11:50 a.m.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations says that President Donald Trump’s speech to the global body proves that the US “is on the right side of history.”

Ambassador Danny Danon says that the U.S. is leading the “United Nations into a new era that ends its obsession with Israel, and pushes back against the Iranian regime.” He made the remarks in a statement shortly after Trump’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

In his speech, Trump asked the world’s nations to join the U.S. in isolating Iran over behavior he deems aggressive. He says a regime that chants “death to America” and threatens Israel with destruction must not be allowed to have the means to deliver a nuclear warhead.


11:30 a.m.

Brazil’s president is urging world leaders to reject growing trends for isolationism and intolerance and recommit to defending international cooperation and improving the United Nations.

President Michel Temer told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that his administration has done its part by increasingly opening Brazil’s economy and by welcoming Venezuelans fleeing their country’s economic collapse.

Temer stressed the importance of the United Nations in a world where countries are increasingly advocating going it alone.

But he also said the body needs significant reforms to become more effective and legitimate. He said that the Security Council as it currently stands reflects a world that no longer exists. Brazil and other countries have advocated expanding the number of countries that sit on the Security Council, including the number of permanent members.


10:20 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump is holding up the whole world.

Trump ran a bit late for his once-a-year speech at the U.N. General Assembly, forcing organizers to change the order of speakers.

Trump was scheduled to speak second at Tuesday’s session, after Brazilian President Michel Temer.

Instead, Temer’s speech was followed by an awkward pause, as U.N. officials prepared the podium to accommodate the No. 3 speaker, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, who is in a wheelchair.

Trump’s motorcade arrived during Moreno’s speech at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

The White House did not immediately explain why Trump was running late. Trump’s America-first policies and criticism of allies has clashed with the multilateral spirit of the U.N. General Assembly.


9:50 a.m.

Germany’s foreign minister is warning that too much pressure on Iran might lead Tehran to resume its military nuclear program and destabilize the entire Middle East.

Heiko Maas told reporters in New York on Tuesday that three European Union countries, Russia and China agreed overnight to try to maintain the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran despite the U.S. pullout.

Maas said “There was great unanimity among those involved that we want to keep this deal alive, that we want to soften the consequences resulting from U.S. sanctions.” He said this includes facilitating payments for Iran’s exports.

Maas added that Germany’s worry is “that under greatest possible pressure Iran might one day resume military nuclear use again. We don’t want this because it would set the entire region ablaze”


9:40 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling technology advances one of the “epochal challenges” facing the world.

Speaking Tuesday at the General Assembly gathering of world leaders, Guterres says the promise of such developing technologies as artificial intelligence, blockchain and biotech is tempered by risks and “serious dangers.”

He notes that technology stands to change or eliminate some jobs and is a tool in the hands of terrorists, cybercriminals and creators of disinformation campaigns. And he worries about the possibility of artificially intelligent weapons that could choose their own targets.

Guterres declares that “the prospect of machines with the discretion and power to take human life is morally repugnant.”

He also notes that people increasingly are getting information from social media feeds and outlets that echo their views and “reinforce tribalism.”


9:20 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world has reached “a pivotal moment” in global warming and risks runaway climate change if leaders don’t act in the next two years.

He is telling world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly that they aren’t doing enough to combat what he calls “a direct existential threat” that is moving faster than people are working to combat it.

He notes that thick, permanent sea ice north of Greenland began to break up this year for the first time.

He’s calling for making sure the international Paris climate change agreement is implemented. U.S. President Donald Trump has announced he’s withdrawing his country from the pact.

Guterres is planning a climate summit next year.



U.N, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the principle of multinational cooperation “is under fire precisely when we need it most.”

The U.N. chief is issuing a sweeping appeal to revive multilateralism as he speaks Tuesday at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.

He says that at a time of “massive, existential threats” to people and the planet, “there is no way forward but collective, common-sense action for the common good.”

Guterres is warning of rising populism and polarization within nations. He says their leaders have the duty to improve their people’s well-being, but also to “promote and support a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system.”



U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is telling leaders from around the world that it “is suffering from a bad case of ‘Trust Deficit Disorder.’”

The U.N. chief is painting a bleak picture in his speech as the General Assembly’s top-level gathering opens Tuesday. He points to rising polarization and populism within nations, ebbing cooperation among them and “fragile” trust in international institutions.

And Guterres says “democratic principles are under siege.”

Presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and high-ranking ministers from 133 countries have signed up to attend the weeklong session. Among them are many defenders of the international order, but also such populist leaders as U.S. President Donald Trump, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte.


8:45 a.m.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to paint a grim picture of the state of the world as leaders open their annual meeting Tuesday, spotlighting the breakdown of trust around the globe and the need to counter unilateralism and reinvigorate international cooperation which is the foundation of the United Nations.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq gave a preview the U.N. chief’s address saying he will “also sound the alarm on climate change” and stress that all people must benefit from new technologies “while safeguarding against the dangers from malicious acts in cyberspace to the weaponization of artificial intelligence.”

He said Guterres will also appeal to world leaders “for greater solidarity in advancing peace, human rights and sustainable development,” he said.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend the General Assembly session, up from 114 leaders last year.