UN Latest: Pakistan’s Sharif Seeks Debt Relief, Aid Amid Floods

(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appealed for debt relief from wealthy countries as catastrophic floods exacerbated by climate change have displaced millions of people in his South Asian nation.

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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a United Nations Security Council meeting where the US and its allies were criticizing President Vladimir Putin’s government over the invasion of Ukraine, in a stark demonstration of the divisions opened up by the war.

Lavrov arrived at the meeting late, delivered his speech and left once it was done, refusing to stay for the speeches that accused Russia of committing war crimes and violating the UN Charter. He said the West forced Russia to launch it’s so-called “special military operation” to protect its own security.

Click here for the full schedule of speakers.

(All times ET)

Essential reading:

  • How the UN Became a Bystander to the World’s Biggest Flashpoint

  • To catch up on the latest developments on Ukraine, click here.

  • And listen to our Twitter Space on UN’s struggle for relevance

  • Russia Is Left an Outlier Among World Leaders Gathered at the UN

Pakistan’s Leader Appeals for Aid, Debt Relief (9:21 p.m.)

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York that he had asked the Paris Club of rich creditor nations for a moratorium on his country’s debt as it tries to recover from disastrous flooding.

The floods have submerged a third of the nation and killed more than 1,500 people. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on the international community to help Pakistan financially as damages caused by the floods exceed $30 billion.

“Unless we get substantial relief how can the world expect from us to stand on our own feet? It is simply impossible,” Sharif said in the interview.

Ireland’s Martin Decries Security Council Veto (9 p.m.)

Ireland’s prime minister, Micheal Martin, in his address to the General Assembly on Thursday, said the Security Council veto, which allows for a permanent member to defeat a resolution or decision, should be abolished if the organization is to function effectively.

Ireland is now an elected member of the council, and Martin cited a Russian veto that killed a resolution on climate change that was supported by 113 countries. He also said the Security Council must be more active in helping end violence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and to promote a “two-state solution” in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

He said he envisioned an Irish leader a century from now addressing the General Assembly and “will not cite frustrations over the use of the veto at the Security Council to thwart the will of the majority of member states because the veto will be an anachronism that has long ceased to exist.”

Barbados’s Mottley Calls for Fairer Financial System (8 p.m.)

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados asked world leaders to embrace a more inclusive global financial architecture that better serves the majority of the UN member states, most of which were not involved in the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement that gave rise to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

To address inequities in the global financial system, she asked that nations demand change. Debt should carry clauses that waive repayment during times of natural disaster or pandemic.

During her first term in office, Mottley restructured Barbados’s debt with an eye toward making the country resilient to disruptive climate events. Like other Caribbean nations, Barbados is vulnerable to intensifying cyclones and rising sea levels.

Israeli Leader Resurrects Two-State Solution (2:25 p.m.)

Yair Lapid called for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the first Israeli leader to do so at the General Assembly in six years.

“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Isra

el’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children,” he said, adding that the only condition Israel had was for a future Palestinian state to be “a peaceful one.”

Lavrov Defends Invasion on Security Council Meeting (12:45 p.m.)

Lavrov, Russia’s top representative at the General Assembly, defended his country’s invasion of Ukraine in a speech to a Security Council session on the crisis, before leaving the session midway through.

Lavrov reiterated the Kremlin’s assertion that what it calls a “special military operation” was “inevitable” because the US and its allies sought to use Ukraine as a “base for creating and realizing threats to Russian security.” Both Ukraine and the West have rejected those allegations.

Lavrov didn’t stay to listen to the other speeches at the session, nearly all of which blasted Russia’s invasion.

“He has left the chamber, I’m not surprised,” UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told the session shortly after Lavrov spoke. “I don’t think Mr. Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.”

Russia has also struggled to marshal support outside the Security Council. The General Assembly voted 101-7 with 19 abstentions to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to speak by video link this week.

Guterres Denounces Russian Plans for Referendums (10:58 a.m.)

Secretary-General Guterres said he was “deeply concerned by reports of plans to organize so-called referenda in areas of Ukraine that are currently not under government control.”

“Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the UN Charter and of international law,” Guterres told the Security Council in condemning Putin’s plans to stage sham referendums to justify claiming Ukrainian territory as part of Russia.

ICC Prosecutor Says World Must Show ‘Law Has Meaning’ (10:47 a.m.)

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan said those guilty of war crimes or other abuses in Ukraine must be brought to justice, as diplomats used a Security Council session to again lament Russia’s invasion.

“This is a moment where we must collectively demonstrate -- by action, not words -- that the law has meaning,” Khan said. “Anybody who picks up a gun, anybody who fires a missile” must know the law applies and will be employed, Khan said.

Ireland’s Leader Cites ‘Shared Determination’ for Resolution With Truss (10:44 a.m.)

There’s a renewed sense of determination to resolve issues surrounding the Northern Irish Protocol as the UK’s Liz Truss begins work as prime minister, according to Ireland’s leader, Micheal Martin.

Martin’s meeting at the weekend with Truss was “constructive” and “there is shared determination to get the issue resolved,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

While the difficulties in getting a resolution on the part of the Brexit agreement that deals with trade into Northern Ireland shouldn’t be underestimated, Martin said, he was “clear now that there is a will to get it resolved on all sides and where there is a will there’s always a means to doing that.”

US and Chinese Foreign Ministers to Meet on Friday (8:40 a.m.)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday on the margins of the UN session, the State Department said in a statement.

The department said it’s “part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and manage competition responsibly.”

Amid tensions over issues from trade to the future of Taiwan, President Joe Biden told the UN gathering on Wednesday that “we do not seek a Cold War. We do not ask any nation to choose between the United States or any other partner.”

South Korean Leader Heard Insulting Congress (6:30 a.m.)

South Korean leader Yoon Suk Yeol was overheard insulting American lawmakers as “idiots,” after briefly meeting President Joe Biden to discuss issues including US electric-vehicle subsidies that South Korea wants to change.

“What an embarrassment for Biden, if these idiots refuse to grant it in Congress,” video broadcast on South Korean television showed Yoon telling Foreign Minster Park Jin in New York. The comments were caught on a microphone as Yoon and Park were leaving a brief chat with Biden at a Global Fund event.

Yoon has come under pressure at home to remedy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act signed by Biden, which includes tax credits of as much as $7,500 for purchases of electric vehicles made in North America. That could disadvantage major South Korean brands like Hyundai and Kia, which don’t yet have operational EV plants in the US.

China and Russia Foreign Ministers Meet (11:15 p.m.)

China vouched for Russia’s role in the UN in a meeting between the two nations’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the General Assembly, according to Tass. “Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and must continue to play its important role in the UN. No one can deprive Russia of this right,” it quoted China’s Wang Yi as saying.

The meeting underscored the two countries’ similar approach to global affairs that allows them to “play a constructive role in the formation of a more just and sustainable polycentric world order,” Tass reported separately, citing a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry. The two foreign ministers also criticized US foreign policy, particularly toward Taiwan.

Last week, Putin told Chinese leader Xi Jinping he understands Beijing’s “questions and concerns” about his invasion of Ukraine, a rare admission of tensions between the diplomatic allies that came in the first in-person talks between the leaders of the long-time partners since the war began.

Putin Acknowledges Xi’s ‘Concerns’ on Ukraine, Showing Tension

Truss Says Democracies ‘Must Deliver’ for Citizens (9:30 p.m.)

Truss evoked the struggle between democracy and autocracy as the UK prime minister paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, saying when the queen “addressed this general assembly 65 years ago, she warned that it was vital not only to have strong ideals but also to have the political will to deliver on them. Now we must show that will.”

The premier praised the international alliance that has supported Ukraine in the war against Russia and “at this crucial moment in the conflict, I pledge that we sustain or increase our military support to Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

US Sees General Assembly as Fertile Ground for Price Cap (8:20 p.m.)

US diplomats are using meetings on the sidelines of the General Assembly to push for other countries to adopt a price cap on Russian oil and petroleum products, a senior State Department official said.

The US is emphasizing that the price cap is meant to limit Putin’s ability to finance the Ukraine war. They also stress -- particularly to developing countries -- that the mechanism can keep cheap Russian oil on the market and stabilize global energy prices, the official said, adding countries have been receptive to the cap, especially those that haven’t previously discussed the subject with the US. Even nations that won’t agree to the cap understand they can benefit from discounts on Russian energy.

Zelenskiy Warns of Negotiations as Delaying Tactic (8 p.m.)

Zelenskiy, in his speech, asked for more weapons to pursue his country’s efforts to repel Russia’s invasion and warned that Moscow would try to use the prospect of negotiations as a delaying tactic. The Russians, he added, are “afraid of real negotiations.”

He spoke of a recent prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine and praised the efforts of Saudi Arabia in brokering the deal.

Yoon, Kishida Sit Down Together in New York (7 p.m.)

The leaders of Japan and South Korea used their first summit in nearly three years to pledge to resolve historical issues that have damaged ties between the US allies.

Japan, South Korea Pledge Better Ties in First Summit Since 2019

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met for about 30 minutes in New York, where both had addressed a session of the assembly. Statements from both sides said the pair also discussed the importance of cooperation that includes the US as they face threats from the likes of North Korea.

Decisions by South Korean courts in recent years finding certain Japanese companies liable for compensation to Korean laborers for work done during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the peninsula has soured ties. It also briefly touched off a trade dispute between the neighbors that the Biden administration has been courting as it seeks to secure supply lines for crucial goods such as semiconductors that diminish dependence on China.

Trump-Picked World Bank Boss Under Fire at UN (5 p.m.)

It’s one of the biggest talking points on the sidelines of the UN and among officials: why David Malpass insists on being a climate denier.

Pressure to replace the World Bank chief installed three years ago by former President Donald Trump has ramped up after his equivocations on the impact of burning fossil fuels sharpened criticism of the lender’s track record on climate change.

The controversy kicked off Tuesday when former US Vice President Al Gore labeled World Bank President David Malpass a climate denier and called for a change of leadership. Asked about the criticism during the same event in New York, Malpass dodged questions on the effects of man-made emissions on climate change before saying: “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”

Macron and Truss Appear to Put ‘Friend or Foe’ Question to Rest (4 p.m.)

French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to try to bury the hatchet with Truss on the sidelines of the assembly.

“There is a willingness to re-engage, to move forward and to show that we are, as it were, allies and friends in a complex world,” Macron told a group of reporters in New York City after the talks. “Now, I believe in evidence, and results.”

Macron’s government has repeatedly been at odds with former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s, especially during post-Brexit negotiations and on issues related to migrants crossing the English Channel. When Truss was eying the position, she said “the jury’s out” on whether France was UK’s “friend or foe.”

The two leaders appeared to shake off tensions, smiling and shaking hands during a photo op preceding their meeting. Readouts of the conversation shared by their aides focused on their common stance on Ukraine and Russia rather than thornier issues including Northern Ireland.

Biden and Truss Present a United Front on Ukraine (2:31 p.m.)

Biden and Truss brushed shoulders at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral but had to wait till now to formally sit down and get acquainted. At the Group of Seven summit in Germany, it was still Boris Johnson who was in power and the two men did not have a bilateral, a fact that the UK press was quick to pounce on.

Truss is a vocal hawk and the UK is the US’s closest geopolitical ally. On Ukraine the two countries are very much on the same page. Where there is tension is on the post-Brexit reality of a problematic Irish border.

The US president said he and Truss were both “committed to protecting” the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland and that aiding Ukraine and countering China also were on the agenda.

The meeting was a chance for Biden and Truss to form a stronger personal bond and cool simmering tensions over trade and Northern Ireland. Truss has questioned the nature of the so-called “special relationship” between the US and UK. Asked Wednesday if the “special relationship” is intact, Truss gave a single, firm head nod.

Biden-Truss Era Dawns With Caution, Doubt, Silence on Trade

Biden Says US Doesn’t Seek Conflict With China (11:32 a.m.)

Biden told the General Assembly that the US doesn’t seek conflict with China and will conduct itself as “a reasonable leader.”

“We do not seek a Cold War We do not ask any nation to choose between the United States or any other partner,” Biden said in his speech. He also sought to tamp down speculation that his recent pledge to defend Taiwan if China invades marks a change in US policy.

“We seek to promote peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, remain committed to our one China policy, which has helped prevent conflict for four decades,” Biden said. “We continue to oppose unilateral changes in the status quo by either side.”

Macron To Discuss Gas Prices, Supplies With Biden (11:30 a.m.)

Macron expects to improve coordination on energy and food with the US following a meeting with Biden this afternoon on the sidelines of the assembly. Europe needs to secure gas supplies and “reasonable pricing,” Macron said.

The French president called for “everyone to put maximum pressure on President Putin for him to end this senseless war.”

He declined to say how France would react if Russia were to use nuclear weapons. France’s doctrine is not to take part in any escalation, Macron said.

War in Ukraine Is Not Going Well For Putin, Greek Premier Says (11:26 a.m.)

Putin is going to try everything to turn the table as his invasion is not going well, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

“We’re all united in supporting Ukraine defend itself against an open act of aggression,” Mitsotakis told Bloomberg TV in New York. “The war is not going well for Russia and I’m convinced Putin won’t succeed.”

Biden Says Putin’s War is About ‘Extinguishing Ukraine’s Right to Exist’ (11:12 a.m.)

Biden opened his speech to the General Assembly by condemning Putin’s push to escalate his military campaign in Ukraine, condemning it as a “brutal, needless war.”

Biden again sought to rally support from the rest of the world to stand up against Putin. The US president has marshaled a global campaign to aid Ukraine and counter Russia, authorizing billions of dollars of military assistance for Kyiv’s forces and imposing sanctions that have hobbled the Russian economy.

“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple. And Ukraine’s right to exist as a people. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold,” Biden said.

The US president has hailed the effort as proof he has been able to revitalize US alliances that were frayed by former President Donald Trump. Finland and Sweden, countries that for decades prized non-alignment, are on the brink of being welcomed into NATO amid concerns about Russian aggression. Existing allies have boosted defense spending, long a US goal.

Biden has also used bellicose language to condemn Putin for his invasion, calling him a war criminal and declaring in a major address in Warsaw earlier this year that “this man cannot remain in power.”

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