03:59 GMT +311 December 2019
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    Key Moments of Day 2 of UNGA Debate: War, Peace, Surprising Guest

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    On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Debate entered its second day. Almost 40 world leaders and foreign ministers spoke from the tribune in the UN headquarters in New York. Many speeches were dominated by the topic of ongoing or looming wars and solutions for peace. Here are the key moments from the Day 2 of the debate.


    The second day of the high-level debate started with a speech of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky. Speaking from the General Assembly Tribune, Zelensky made no mention of the political scandal shaking the United States that he is involved with. Mere hours before Zelensky’s speech, the US House launched a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart which took place in July.

    Zelensky focused on the smoldering civil war that has been going on in Ukraine for five years, and vowed to end the conflict, but “not at a cost of lives of Ukrainians.”

    "Recovering all occupied Ukrainian territories are my primary objectives, but not at the cost of the lives of Ukrainians," he said.

    He called on the international community to ramp up support to Ukraine, saying that "there is no such thing as someone else's war.”


    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the audience about the danger of conflict in the Persian Gulf, saying that regional security could fall with a “single blunder.”

    “Our region is on the edge of collapse, as a single blunder can fuel a big fire," he said.

    As Rouhani presented his Hormuz Peace Initiative (HOPE), designed to include all countries of the Gulf region, he insisted that security can only be ensured by the region’s countries, not through US intervention or “merciless economic terrorism.”

    Accusing Washington of “international piracy” towards Iran over the sanctions that Trump unilaterally re-imposed after withdrawing from the JCPOA nuclear deal in 2018, Rouhani asserted that Tehran will never negotiate with “an enemy that seeks to make Iran surrender with the weapon of poverty.”

    Speaking from the General Assembly tribune, Rouhani made a straightforward call for Washington to “stop the sanctions so as to open the way for the start of negotiations.”


    Fayez Sarraj, the Prime Minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), blasted foreign interference by a number of nations who support GNA’s number one rival, the Libyan National Army (LNA)’s Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. In particular, he pointed the finger at the United Arab Emirates, France and Egypt for providing support to Haftar’s forces.

    "Libya faced a serious crisis over negative foreign influence which led to institutional and political division. The crisis grew to attacks on the capital involving external financial and military support," Sarraj said.

    He rejected the idea of peace talks with Haftar.

    "We will not sit at one table with criminal Haftar. He is not a partner in achieving peace," Sarraj told the UN General Assembly, late on Wednesday.


    Iraqi President Barham Salih proposed the creation of a regional organization that would promote economic integration and security in the region, which only recently began recovering from a war against the Daesh terror group. 

    "We can transform our country from a battlefield and a scene of violence into an economic hub in the region,” Salih said. "The security of the region is contingent upon a good neighborly relationship between Iraq and its surrounding countries.” 

    The president pointed out Iraq’s vast ethnic and religious diversity as proof that the republic fits best for becoming an economic hub in the Middle East.


    Lebanese President Michel Aoun called on the international community to ramp up efforts to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homes. He pointed out that the influx of Syrian refugees put a strain on the Lebanese economy and that bringing them home is a joint international responsibility that must be urgently dealt with. He said his nation will continue to urge Syrians to “voluntarily” return to their homeland in coordination with the Syrian government.

    Aoun noted that 250,000 refugees have returned to Syria from Lebanon and “there has been no information about anyone being persecuted or mistreated."


    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made a surprising appearance at the UN General Assembly tribune Wednesday, despite his speech being reportedly scheduled for Friday. No comments are immediately available regarding the program reshuffle.

    In his speech, Maas called on Iran to engage in talks with the US, adding that talks can only happen if “no unrealistic preconditions are placed on such a dialogue.” He called on Iran to meet obligations it took on itself under the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal and to “respond positively” to European efforts to facilitate a “positive, diplomatic solution.”

    Maas made comments that contrasted to those of Trump, who claimed the future belongs to “patriots,” not “globalists.” According to Maas, Germany disagrees with the idea that “if everyone thinks for themselves, everyone is thought about,” arguing that, under Trump’s ‘logic’, every nation would instead end up pitted against everyone else.

    The Foreign Minister spoke on climate change, saying that unless people of the world be provided with basic resources such as clean drinking water, future wars will be “climate wars.”


    Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales devoted nearly half his UN General Assembly speech on Wednesday to the now-gone commission known as CICIG, which worked in the country for 12 years. Morales said the commission infringed on Guatemala's sovereignty and jeopardized "social peace." He called for an investigation and a detailed report on its spending.


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