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United Nations: News Roundup

New York, 23 September 1998 (RFE/RL) -- At the United Nations General Assembly delegates are addressing the problems of their respective countries and international issues.

Russian Foreign Minister Says Reforms Will Continue

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says his country will stay on course with economic reforms despite its financial crisis.

In his debut speech to the 53rd session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Ivanov also said Russia's foreign policy will continue to be consistent and constructive, geared toward building a democratic multi-polar world.

Ivanov said Russian President Boris Yeltsin overcame recently an "acute political crisis" with the establishment of a new cabinet headed by Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. He said the government and leading political forces are making vigorous efforts to stabilize the economy. He said this is not an easy task but promised that a solution will be found.

The foreign minister declared: "Speaking from this high rostrum, I wish to say in full responsibility that Russia will not deviate from the path of reforms and will do its best to pass with dignity this highly critical test so as not only to preserve the accumulated democratic gains but also to score new ones."

Ivanov said settling international problems must be done by political means.

Speaking about Iraq, the Russian foreign minister called on Baghdad to resume full cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors. He said the new outbreak of tensions between Iraq and the international community threatens regional and international stability. However, he also said Russia believes an active diplomacy, rather than military force, offers the best possibility for finding solutions.

On nuclear weapons, Ivanov said Russia is committed to the idea of cutting missiles even further. He reaffirmed his government's support to push for Duma ratification of the START-2 treaty that seeks deep cuts in nuclear weapons both by Russia and the United States.

The Duma, Russia's lower chamber of Parliament, so far has refused to ratify START-2.

Ivanov called on nuclear powers to deploy these weapons "exclusively within the boundaries of their national territories." He did not mention the United States by name. The U.S. keeps nuclear weapons in NATO countries as part of a national defense policy.

Ivanov also said political logic must prevail over the logic of force in dealing with the Kosovo crisis.

He said: "The use of power tools to resolve the Kosovo conflict might lead to a large-scale war with unpredictable consequences for the Balkan region and Europe at large."

Ivanov said Moscow believes that Kosovo, a Serb province with a predominantly ethnic Albanian majority, should be granted "broad autonomy" but that the territorial integrity of Yugoslav Federal Republic should be respected. Serbia and Montenegro together form federal Yugoslavia.

Germany Advocates Political Solution For Kosovo

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel also addressed the Kosovo issue in his speech before the General Assembly, saying NATO is prepared to provide backing for a "political solution" for the conflict.

Kinkel emphasized that the alliance is seeking a diplomatic -- not a military -- solution for Kosovo.

He said the weapons must be silenced in Kosovo. He said Germany condemns the use of force by the Yugoslav security forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Kinkel said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is responsible for much of the crisis. And he reiterated previous declarations that the international community will react with military force, if necessary.

Lithuanian Leader Says Democracy On March

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has paid tribute to the United Nations for promoting peace and individual freedom and said democracy is gaining strength around the world.

Adamkus told the U.N. General Assembly today that freedom should never be undermined by nations. He said democracy is on the march around the globe. He said democracy, in fact, is no longer identified exclusively with the West.

But Adamkus said the nuclear arms race between Pakistan and India revived certain aspects of the Cold War.

The Lithuanian president also said his country will support every initiative aimed at promoting the viability of natural resources and a clean environment.

Khatami Says Rushdie Affair 'Finished'

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says he regards the Salman Rushdie affair as completely finished.

Khatami made the comments yesterday to reporters in New York, where he is attending United Nations General Assembly debates.

The Iranian leader did not announce a shift in Tehran's position on a death sentence issued against the British novelist of "The Satanic Verses."

The late Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini imposed the sentence in 1989 for what he regarded as Rushdie's blasphemy against the Islamic religion.

The death threat has not been carried out and the Iranian government has said previously it would take no action on the issue.