Panamas leader focuses on territorial disputes in UN address

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly today, the President of Panama highlighted several issues related to territorial disputes of his country, while also focusing on eradication of poverty and other goals of long-term sustainable development.“For the first time in history, humanity possesses the technological means, economical and politico-social structures to eradicate extreme poverty forever,” President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal told the high-level debate of the 68th General Assembly.He stressed that Panama has progressed on the time-bound Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which address poverty and hunger, education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, environmental sustainability and a global partnership for development.The MDGs are in the limelight today at a special event on the follow-up efforts made towards achieving the eight targets and on laying a foundation for a sustainable development agenda in the years after 2015.In his statement, Mr. Martinelli Berrocal said that his country supports the idea that the post-2015 agenda should place sustainable development in the centre and not leave anyone out. “The original promise of the [Goals] must be maintained and this new route to development should be transformed from reduction of poverty to ending extreme poverty,” said Mr. Martinelli Berrocal, who also noted the importance of human rights and the environment in the new agenda. Turning to national politics, he noted that the Government of Nicaragua plans to extend its continental shelf about 150 nautical miles past what the International Court of Justice allocated. The move “deeply and energetically” worries Panama, he said, denouncing the move.Mr. Martinelli Berrocal also raised the issues of an incident in July related to a boat belonging to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) reportedly carrying weapons in violation of an arms embargo to Cuba. A UN panel of experts monitoring sanctions related to DPRK issues visited Panama in mid-August to investigate the arms seizure, but its findings have not been made public. “As a President of a sovereign country, I do not come to this forum to demand action against those countries involved in this incident,” he said. “Simply, Panama aspires and requests the recognition that our actions were founded unequivocally on the desire to abide by what this Organization established.” Mr. Martinelli Berrocal is among the many leaders to speak at the annual General Assembly session at which heads of State and Government and other high-level officials will present their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance. The General Debate opened yesterday and wraps up on 1 October.

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