Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gulf Conflict Tops Agenda as UN Opens New Session

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gulf Conflict Tops Agenda as UN Opens New Session

Article excerpt

THE United Nations General Assembly opens its 45th session today with more than 150 items on an agenda dominated by the Gulf crisis.

The UN Security Council has taken action to condemn Iraq no less than seven times since its Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait. Currently being weighed is a resolution that would provide for an air embargo of Iraq - something the UN has never done.

With Iraq's insistence that its acquisition of the neighboring sheikdom is "indestructible, eternal, and irreversible," Baghdad is almost certain to demand that Kuwait be eliminated from the UN roster as a separate entity, its Assembly seat vacated, and its colors struck from the rank of member-state flags. Given the overwhelming condemnation, there is no chance Iraq will prevail.

Delegates to the General Assembly say they expect to debate and act on resolutions that parallel the Security Council measures calling for Iraqi troop withdrawal from Kuwait, repudiating the "merger" of the two states, demanding a release of hostages, and backing the Council's trade embargo. Unlike the Council's mandatory resolutions, the Assembly's carry the international community's moral authority but are not binding.

A strong turnout of at least 45 heads of state and more than 100 foreign ministers will attend the session, according to Ronald Speirs, UN undersecretary-general for General Assembly affairs. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is not expected to attend, though United States President Bush will speak.

In the first weeks of the UN's three-month session, the customary rounds of private talks dealing with bilateral problems are intensified by the Gulf crisis. The Assembly sessions provide the opportunity for "the most cost-effective diplomacy you can imagine," Mr. Speirs says.

Beyond the Gulf crisis, the session's core issues will center on economic and social problems that include third-world debt, underdevelopment, poverty, refugees, drugs, the AIDS epidemic, crime, discrimination against women, and the widening gap between rich and poor. …

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