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Fijian diplomat elected president of UN General Assembly

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UN-UNGA-71ST SESSION-PRESIDENT-ELECTPeter Thomson ,the ambassador of the tiny Pacific Island nation of Fiji  won  election for the post of president of the next session of the United Nations General Assembly, which will choose the successor to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The high profile position  has been the focus of a corruption scandal in the United States.

In a keenly contested election, he polled 94 votes narrowly defeated Andreas Mavroyiannis of Cyprus who got 90. Under the system of regional rotation, it is the Asia-Pacific region’s turn to hold the post and usually one candidate is proposed by the group whose turn it is. This time the lack of a consensus sent election to a ballot by the 193-member General Assembly.

Thomson will oversee the election of the next Secretary General by the General Assembly in a process that will have a measure of transparency for the first time.

If the Security Council reform process does not pass the current session that ends in September, Thomson could play a pivotal role in reviving it under his watch. He has in past criticised the slow pace of Security Council reform and called for greater efforts by UN members to deal with this and other issues.

Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama has declared that his country “is strongly supporting” India’s bid for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

After his election, Thomson told the General Assembly that his priorities will be the promotion of UN Sustainable Development Goals to enhance human welfare and climate change given that his island nation is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels from global warming. “We bring special perspectives on climate change and on oceans issues,” he said. “You can expect me to be vocal on these issues.”

Later at a news conference, he pledged to bring more transparency to his own office in the wake of corruption allegations against a former Assembly President, John Ashe, who held the position during 2013-14. Ashe, who was the permanent representative of Antigua and Barbuda, has been accused by US federal prosecutor Preet Bharara of taking over $1 million dollars in bribes from a Chinese real estate developer operating in Macau.

Thomson has a wide range of international leadership experience. He was the vice president of the General Assembly in 2010-11. He has also been the chair of the developing nations’ Group of 77 to which India belongs, and the chair of the executive boards of both the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Thomson will be succeeding Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark, whose singualar achievement has been making the process of the election of the secretary general more open. He has organised meetings with the ten candidates where members of the UN as well as civil society representatives heard their positions and questioned them.

The candidature of Mavroyiannis was undermined by the fact that Cyprus is member of the European Union, even as it is a part of the Asian Pacific Group, of which Fiji is unambiguously a member.

America

US unemployment rate falls to 50-year low

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell in September to a new five-decade low of 3.5%, while employers added a modest 136,000 jobs.

The Labor Department says that despite the ultra-low unemployment rate, which was down from 3.7% in August, average hourly wages slipped by a penny. Hourly pay rose just 2.9% from a year earlier, lower than 3.4% at the beginning of the year.

Hiring has slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified, global growth has slowed, and businesses have cut back on their investment spending. Still, hiring has averaged 157,000 in the past three months, enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

The unemployment rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, the lowest on records dating from 1973.

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Trump embarrassed by TV channel

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

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New York, Sep 26 : US President Donald Trump was subjected to an embarrassment when the MSNBC news channel cut away from his press conference while he was speaking on the controversy surrounding him over the Ukrainian probe against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump on Wednesday was addressing the press conference against the backdrop of impeachment proceedings announced against him by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following allegations that he put pressure on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to order a probe against Biden whose family has business interests there.

The allegation against Trump came to light because of a whistleblower and a transcript of the conversation between him and Zelensky in July, which has become public.

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

She added that Trump was trying to do it to deflect the attention from his impeachment.

According to the transcript of the telephonic conversation that has gone public, Trump is heard asking Zelensky to “do us a favour”, after the latter expresses gratitude for the military aid the US provided to his country.

Trump’s words of “do us a favour” is seen as a quid pro quo for the American military aid, because of which the impeachment proceedings have been announced.

After Wallace cut the press conference, her guest on the programme, justice and security analyst Matthew Miller, rebuked Trump for saying that Biden and his son had done wrong.

“This story has been looked at and thoroughly debunked by everyone involved,” Miller said, adding the real issue was whether Trump’s conduct is “impeachable”.

Trump is facing problem at a time when he is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

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Kim Jong-un receives ‘excellent’ letter from Trump

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Pyongyang, June 23 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter with “excellent” and “interesting” content from US President Donald Trump, Pyongyang’s state media said on Sunday.

“After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to its leader.

“Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” it added.

The KCNA did not disclose when and how the letter was delivered to Kim, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The letter appears to be in response to the one Kim sent to Trump recently in time for the anniversary of their first-ever summit in Singapore last June.

Trump had described Kim’s letter as “beautiful” and “very warm”. He also emphasized that the relationship between them remains strong and that “something will happen that’s going to be very positive”.

The exchange of correspondence between the leaders renewed hopes for a resumption of denuclearization talks which have stalled since the breakdown of their second summit in February.

The summit collapsed as Pyongyang wanted sanctions relief as a corresponding measure in exchange for dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex, while Washington insisted that sanctions should remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons programme.

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