After days devoted to Ukraine, other concerns emerge at the UN

THE UNITED NATIONS — After three days in which the war in Ukraine has consumed world leaders at the United Nations, other conflicts and concerns are beginning to emerge.

Some are the long-simmering ones with global reach that have recently receded from public attention. Israel’s prime minister called for the creation of a Palestinian state in a speech Thursday dedicated to the conflict. The Palestinian president speaks on Friday.

Others are regional conflicts that have erupted. Armenia’s prime minister warned that “the risk of further aggression by Azerbaijan remains very high” after the biggest outbreak of hostilities between the two adversaries in nearly two years. Former Soviet Union countries are locked in a dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a war separatist in 1994.

The leaders of Iraq and Pakistan, meanwhile, take the stage on Friday. Both nations are essential to the geopolitical world order, but have received less global attention in recent years.

The annual gathering of leaders at the United Nations General Assembly is an opportunity for every country to express its concerns and voice its hopes. This year’s meeting has so far focused heavily on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war, as countries lamented how the conflict has upended the geopolitical order, repeatedly raised the specter of a nuclear catastrophe and triggered food and energy crises.

Russia and Ukraine squared off in a Security Council meeting on Thursday – an extraordinary but brief encounter in which the best diplomats from the warring countries were in the same room to trade barbs and accusations, but not directly to each other.

At the meeting, the United States called on other nations to tell Russia to stop making nuclear threats and end the “horror” of its war. Moscow has repeated its frequent claims that Kyiv has long oppressed Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine – one of the explanations Vladimir Putin’s government has offered for the invasion.

The Security Council meeting came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressing the assembled leaders via video, insisted his forces would win the war and demanded stronger UN action. The General Assembly gave Zelenskyy a pass to leave his country during wartime so he could appear from a distance – a move Russia opposed.

Meanwhile, in the meeting room, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid gave a Palestinian-focused speech.

The speech, ahead of the Nov. 1 election, appeared to be part of an effort by Lapid to present himself – to both voters and world leaders – as a statesman and a moderate alternative to his chief rival, the extremist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children,” Lapid said.

But it lacked specifics, and there’s virtually no chance that Lapid, who has long supported a two-state solution, will be able to advance his vision. Israel’s parliament is dominated by parties that oppose Palestinian independence, and opinion polls predict a similar result after the next election.

The Palestinians are seeking the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – territories captured by Israel in 1967 – for an independent state, a position that enjoys broad international support.

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Associated Press reporters Andrew Katell in New York and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report. For more AP coverage of the United Nations General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly

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