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The Latest: Obama says 30,000 peacekeepers, police pledged

UNITED NATIONS — Developments as the United Nations General Assembly marks its 70th year and world leaders debate issues gripping the global community and governments.

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3:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama says more than 50 countries have pledged to contribute more than 30,000 new troops and police to U.N. peacekeeping.

The United States is chairing a high-level meeting Monday to strengthen and modernize peacekeeping, which increasingly faces threats from extremist groups while being severely stretched in personnel and equipment. Deployments to crises can take several months.

The number of new troops and police significantly exceeds the 10,000 goal that U.S. officials had mentioned.

However, there is no sign that the United States, which pays for a quarter of the U.N. peacekeeping budget but contributes less than 100 troops and police, is ready to send more of its troops into some of the world’s most volatile areas.

Obama said the U.S. will help with training and more sophisticated support.

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3:25 p.m.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev is urging the world to abandon nuclear weapons by the U.N. centenary in 2045.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, he said a world without nuclear weapons should become “the main goal of the humankind in the 21st century.”

Kazakhstan was the first country in history to close a nuclear site as it renounced the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal, the president said, adding that the move has contributed to the creation of a nuclear weapons free zone in Central Asia.

The weapons were part of the arsenal of the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991.

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2:20 p.m.

The leader of the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group says he is trying to convince world leaders of the urgent need for safe zones and a no-fly area in Syria.

Khaled Khoja of the Syrian National Coalition told The Associated Press Monday that such a move would help stop the waves of refugees overwhelming Europe.

The U.S. and Turkey agreed in July to establish a “safe zone” along the Turkish border free of the Islamic State group, but that has so far failed to materialize.

Khoja blamed the United States for that, saying the U.S. was still opposed to the idea of a no-fly zone and that the U.S. and Turkey had not fully worked out the details, including what to label the area they want to clear from IS.

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1:55 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says “nobody can imagine” a political solution for Syria with President Bashar Assad still in power.

Speaking to reporters in New York on Monday, he said Assad is delusional to claim it is a choice between him and the extremists of the Islamic State group.

Asked how such a political transition could come about, he said the search is on, and all countries which have influence in Syria — including Iran, Iraq, Arab Gulf countries and other neighboring states — should be engaged.

Hollande spoke after a nearly one hour meeting with a delegation from the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group headed by Khaled Khoja.

He also proposed massive assistance for Syria’s neighbors to help deal with the enormous number of refugees in their countries.

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1:55 p.m.

Iran’s president is saying thousands of people died in the stampede of Muslim pilgrims four days ago during the hajj in Saudi Arabia — substantially more than the official death toll. And he blames the deaths on Saudi “incompetence.”

Hassan Rouhani gave no specific figures Monday in a speech to the United Nation summit. The Saudi Health Ministry’s latest figures, released Saturday, put the toll at 769 people killed and 934 injured in Mina.

The largest number of casualties identified thus far is from Iran, which has accused Saudi Arabia of mismanaging the annual pilgrimage and has vowed to take legal action against it.

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1:40 p.m.

Qatar’s emir is offering to host a “meaningful dialogue” in an attempt to calm Arab-Iranian differences that underlie key conflicts in the Middle East.

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told a U.N. gathering of world leaders Monday that there is not, in his opinion, a conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims but instead regional political disputes between Iran and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region.

The emir said his own country’s relations with Iran are “growing and evolving steadily.”

Qatar relishes its role as a meeting ground for often thorny negotiations. The emir asserted that the countries of the region “are not in need of mediation from anyone.”

Arab-Iranian tensions are at play in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen in particular.

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1:20 p.m.

South Korea’s president says the international community should turn its attentions to resolving the stand-off over North Korea’s pursuit of atomic weapons, after reaching a successful deal reached over Iran’s nuclear program.

President Park Geun-hye said the North’s nuclear weapons pose a threat to peace and security and the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. She urged the North to choose the path of reform that would improve life for its people.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Park criticized North Korea for threatening provocative actions that would violate Security Council resolutions. She said that could undermine efforts to resume inter-Korean dialogue and long-stalled six-nation talks its nuclear program.

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1:10 p.m.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is urging the international community to step up efforts to address the refugee crisis which has uprooted thousands from their homes and caused them to risk their lives in a flight to safety in Europe.

Speaking with journalists at the U.N. on Monday, Davutoglu said the world is not doing enough to tackle waves of refugees and migrants fleeing upheaval in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Of the 1.9 million Syrians who have fled to Turkey, only about 300,000 are in refugee camps, while the vast majority has taken up life in towns and cities along the border. Turkey this year began stopping cargo ships from taking Syrians and others to Italy. The Turkish action drove those migrants to try the shorter but dangerous Aegean Sea crossing to Greece.

He said the only way to prevent new waves of refugees is to stop the violence of the Syrian regime and the Islamic State group and with creation of safe areas for Syrians within their country.

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1 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi primarily discussed climate change when they met during a U.N. gathering.

India is one of the last major polluters that has not submitted its plan for combatting and coping with climate change to the United Nations before the world’s nations try to finalize a global climate pact at a Paris conference in December.

Obama says he and Modi agreed that climate change is a “critical issue” for the world. He also say he’s encouraged by Modi’s commitment to the issue.

Modi spoke of the “uncompromising commitment” to climate change that he and Obama share.

The leaders addressed reporters after Monday’s meeting at U.N. headquarters.

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12:30

President Vladimir Putin has urged the creation of a broad anti-terror coalition that would include the Syrian government troops.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Putin said it was a “huge mistake” not to engage the Syrian army in the fight against the Islamic State group.

He also criticized the West for arming “moderate” rebels in Syria, saying they later come to join the Islamic State terror group.

Without naming the United States, he says a “single center of dominance has emerged after the end of Cold War,” and attempts have been made to revise the U.N. role.

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12:18 p.m

Vietnam’s president has told The Associated Press that China’s island-building in the disputed South China Sea violates international law and endangers maritime security.

President Truong Tan Sang (TOO-UHNG TAHN SAHNG) urged the U.S., which has expressed mounting concern over China’s assertive behavior, to fully lift a ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam.

Sang said that would demonstrate to the world that U.S.-Vietnam relations have been fully normalized, 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War.

Sang spoke to The AP Monday as world leaders gathered at the United Nations.

Communist-ruled Vietnam and China have long-standing fraternal ties but tensions have grown over oil exploration in disputed waters, and as China has undertaken massive land reclamation in the Spratly island chain, also claimed by Vietnam.

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12:10 p.m.

Jordan’s king is making a heartfelt defense of the kinder side of Islam in the face of “the outlaws of Islam that operate globally today.”

King Abdullah II quoted the Quran: “And my mercy embraces all things.”

In his address to a U.N. gathering of world leaders, he asks, “When and how did fear and intimidation creep so insidiously into our conversation when there is so much more to be said about the love of God?”

The king says he has called the rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State in his region, and the crisis they have caused, “a third world war, and I believe we must respond with equal intensity.”

Jordan borders both Syria and Iraq, and Syrian refugees now make up 20 percent of Jordan’s population.

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12:10 p.m.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is offering more than $1.1 billion to help with global peacekeeping efforts.

The leader of the world’s second largest economy pledged $1 billion over the next decade to support the United Nations’ efforts to further international cooperation and global peace and development.

Xi said China would also set up a permanent peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops to be deployed whenever necessary. China is already the biggest contributor of peacekeeping troops among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, having sent more than 30,000 on 29 separate missions.

Xi said China would also provide $100 million in military assistance to the African Union over the next five years to support the establishment of an African standby peacekeeping force and to bolster the A.U.’s ability to respond to crises.

At the U.N. on Sunday, Xi said China would contribute an initial $2 billion to establish an assistance fund for meeting post-2015 goals in areas such as education, health care and economic development. He said China would seek to increase the fund to $12 billion by 2030.

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10:55

President Barack Obama says the United States is willing to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to solve the Syrian conflict.

But he says bringing about an end to the four-year civil war means Syrian President Bashar Assad cannot stay in office.

Obama says Assad responded to peaceful protests with repression and killing and wouldn’t be able to satisfactorily bring peace to the nation.

Obama calls the situation in Syria “an assault on all our humanity.”

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10:45 a.m.

President Barack Obama says the world cannot stand by while Russia violates Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty.

He says if there are no consequences for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, it could happen to any other country in the United Nations.

Obama is speaking at the U.N. General Assembly. He’s criticizing Russia just hours before he’s set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama says Russia’s state-controlled media depict recent events as an example of a resurgent Russia. He says that view is shared by many U.S. politicians who think the world is in a new Cold War.

But Obama says that’s not true. He says Ukrainians are more interested than ever in aligning with the West.

Obama says the U.S. doesn’t want to isolate Russia. He says he wants Russia to engage diplomatically and resolve the crisis in a way that lets Ukraine determine its own future.

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10:35 a.m.

President Barack Obama is warning U.N member nations of the risks of failing to work together to solve world problems.

He says the work of the United Nations remains incomplete seven decades after its founding and warns that “dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.”

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders, Obama spoke of leaders who believe power is a “zero sum game,” or that stronger states must impose their will on weaker ones, or that individual rights don’t matter and order must be imposed by force.

Obama says the world’s nations cannot go back to the “old ways of conflict and coercion” and that “we will all suffer the consequences” for failing to work together more effectively.

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10:20 a.m.

Brazil’s president says her country’s deeply troubled economy is in a “moment of transition to another cycle of economic expansion,” one that is more profound, solid and long-lasting.

President Dilma Rousseff spoke to a packed chamber Monday at the annual U.N. General Assembly of world leaders. President Barack Obama was set to speak after her.

This is a time of extreme volatility for Brazil’s economy, with inflation hovering around 10 percent and unemployment the highest in decades.

But Rouseff told world leaders that the economy is “stronger, more solid and resilient than some years ago.”

Credit agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country’s sovereign debt to “junk” status earlier this month.

Rousseff has submitted a budget to Congress with a built-in deficit of about $10 billion.

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9:05 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for the first time is calling for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

In his state of the world address to leaders from the U.N.’s 193 member states, Ban says “innocent Syrians pay the price of more barrel bombs and terrorism” and there must be no impunity for “atrocious” crimes.

His call opened the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders that includes addresses from President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday morning alone.

Ban says five countries “hold the key” to a political solution to Syria: Russia, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran.

The U.N. chief says the Syrian conflict is “driven by regional powers and rivalries.”

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