2017-10-19 15:59




September 19, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jonathan Smith reporting.

President Trump said at the United Nations in New York on Monday that the way the agency is managed must be changed. He spoke at a U.S.-hosted meeting on reforming how the world body is changed.

"In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement, while the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000. We are not seeing the results in line with this investment."

Trump spoke to leaders and officials from more than 120 countries who were invited to attend the meeting after signing on to a U.S.-drafted 10-point declaration backing reform efforts.

The United Nations with its multi-billion-dollar annual budget, numerous peacekeeping missions and large staff has been a target of Trump's criticism for years. The U.S. is the U.N.'s largest single donor contributing more than $600 million last year to the budget of more than 2.5 billion.

President Trump said Monday he is confident that "we have a chance" to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, but he signaled new uncertainty about the U.S. view of the international deal curbing Iran's nuclear program.

He said, "Most people would say there's no chance whatsoever" of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. [He said] He spoke as he got ready for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly meetings. Trump, however, vowed to give peace efforts "an absolute go."

This is VOA news.

U.N. investigators are calling for the prosecution of the perpetrators of crimes against civilians in Syria's long-running civil war. From Geneva, correspondent Lisa Schlein reports on the latest report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council by the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

The Commission of Inquiry has run out of patience with the U.N. member states it accuses of having done little to hold perpetrators of crimes in Syria accountable. Commission Chair Sergio Pinheiro calls the deadlock at the Security Council on Syria after six years of war "reprehensible" and at times bewildering.

He tells delegates at the U.N. Human Rights Council that civilians continue to be deliberately attacked, deprived of humanitarian aid, forcibly displaced and arbitrarily detained or held hostage by all warring parties.

"In several instances, government forces used chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas, including in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib on 4th April."

These charges elicited a hostile and angry reply from Syrian Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala, who accused the Commissioners of using fabricated, biased information from unreliable sources. He called the assertion his government used chemical weapons a pack of lies.

Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.

Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to give a highly anticipated national speech Tuesday, addressing her country's crisis in Rakhine state, where ongoing violence has led about 400,000 ethnic Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh in recent weeks.

She has come under strong international criticism for not speaking out more forcefully on the situation.

Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to speak both in English and Burmese. During her speech Tuesday, her remarks will be streamed live on voanews.com, beginning shortly after 0300 UTC Tuesday. That's after 11:00 p.m. Eastern Monday at the United Nations.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the U.S. has not yet shot down any North Korean missiles because they haven't posed a threat to the U.S. or its allies.

He spoke to reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. He said if the missiles were perceived as a threat, "that would elicit a different response from us."

Reporters asked him what that response is likely to be, but Mattis refused to elaborate.

Earlier this month, North Korea tested what it described as a thermonuclear weapon.

There is more on these and other late breaking and developing stories, from around the world, around the clock, at voanews.com and on the VOA news mobile app. I'm Jonathan Smith reporting from the world headquarters of the Voice of America in Washington.



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