In U.N. Coverage, Local Politics Counts
In the global online media, the speeches of presidents George W. Bush, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Hugo Chavez dominated coverage of the U.N. General Assembly -- but not always and not everywhere.
A look at how world leaders made headlines after their appearances at the U.N. session...
Europe: Teetotalers Cross Swords
EuroNews, a French TV channel, said "Bush and Ahmedinejad cross swords."
"The US is at the forefront of calls for sanctions to be imposed if Tehran continues to stall over the UN's demands. But, with international backing for punitive measures looking increasingly shaky, George W. Bush stressed that he would prefer the crisis to be solved diplomatically."
But Liberation, the Paris daily, emphasized President Jacque Chirac's speech (PDF) was probably his last before the international body.
"The last of the Gaullists strove to show a host of other leaders that France still has a universal message to
deliver," said Liberation.
The Times of London noted the lengths to which Bush and Ahmedinejad went to avoid each other. Apparently intrigued by the concept of an abstemious politician, the British daily noted about the only thing the U.S. and Iranian leaders have in common: neither drinks alcohol.
The Italian news agency ANSA highlighted President Romano Prodi's speech, in which he called attention to an unusual development: Italy's leading military role in the U.N. peacekeeping mission taking shape in southern Lebanon.
The Moscow News reported how Ukraine is using the New York conclave to push for a U.N. resolution accusing Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin of deliberately instigating a genocidal famine in Ukraine in the early 1930s.
"Ukraine has the support of several nations and [Ukraine Foreign Minister Boris] Tarasyuk will use the two-week annual UN General Assembly event now under way to canvass dozens more, he said in an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday."
The Middle East: Duel or Dud?
Turkishpress.com depicted "Bush and Ahmedinejad in U.N. duel."
» Video excerpts and full text (PDF) of Ahmadenijad's speech
» Video excerpts and full text (PDF) of Bush's speech
But there was no "duel" in the Iranian state-controlled Iranian media -- the Islamic Republic News Agency published Ahmedinejad's speech in full.
The editors of the Iran News dismissed Bush's speech as "the reiteration of previous allegations, threats and inaccuracies about the Islamic Republic." The "cold-hard reality," they say, is that "Iran is a regional power and it will not be denied its rights. In addition, we are a great nation with a gloried history and civilization. The world must bow to the just demands of our country."
A story in Aljazeera.net, news site of the Arab cable news network, emphasized the emerging alliance of Iran and Venezuela, dubbing them "the axis of the south."
"Venezuela has been working hard to win a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council in this week's secret vote by member countries. Simultaneously, Iran is seeking votes at the Security Council which could help stop the international body from taking action against it for its nuclear activities."
A commentary in the Jordan Times slammed the veto power of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members as an "undemocratic" arrangement that leaves the other 187 member states as bystanders only.
In Israel, the only Middle Eastern country where Bush is popular, his speech about spreading democracy was panned by Shmuel Rosner of Haaretz.
"In Jerusalem and Washington, diplomats were scratching their heads yesterday trying to figure out what Bush meant in practical terms," he wrote. "If it contained one lesson, it would be in its total focus on the Middle East. Not one word about China, North Korea, Russia or Venezuela -- important countries with which the U.S. has its differences. Not a word about the UN itself, and the reforms that were already implemented and those still ahead. Bush wants the world to assist with his Middle East project, and now is not the time to make him mad," said Rosner.
Africa's Favorite Son
The Accra Daily Mail highlighted the speech of President John Kuofor, especially his praise of the world's best known Ghanian, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
In Kenya, the Nation reported that Bush had expressed concerns about Kenya's stability in a discussion with the president of Tanzania on Monday. The east African nation has struggled with corruption scandals and human rights abuses.
"Instability talk by Bush baffles Kenya team to UN," said the Nairobi daily.
Asia: Within Reach
All of Pakistan's leading news sites gave top billing to President Pervez Musharraff's declaration that a solution to the conflict between Pakistan and India in Kashmir was "within reach."
The Indian press ignored his oration (PDF). On the subcontinent, The Hindu focused on the efforts to push approval of a U.S.-India nuclear technology agreement in the U.S. Congress.
South America: 'Between the Devil and God'
In Venezuela, Chavez's critics in the anti-government media were not impressed. Tal Cual (in Spanish), a Caracas daily that is often critical of Chavez, headlined its story, "Between the Devil and God," with the implication that Chavez conceives of himself as the latter.
When Chavez proposed restructuring the United Nations and relocating it to Venezuela, the Caracas daily said, "there was no shortage of laughter."
El Universal (in Spanish) downplayed Chavez's "devil" remark and played up his criticism that "the United Nations system does not work."
Chavez's ally, Bolivian president Evo Morales, made news by displaying a coca leaf during his speech, saying the "plant is part of the Andean culture, it represents the environment and the people's hope."
Morales "wondered why the coca leaf that Coca Cola uses is legal, while it is considered illegal for other uses like medicine," according to Prensa Latina, the Cuban news agency.
A commentator for Bolpress, a Bolivian news site that often supports Morales, said his defense of coca was the most persuasive part of a "monologue" otherwise full of "confused thoughts always superficially expressed."
In neighboring Chile, La Nacion gave top billing to President Michelle Bachelet's speech in which she recalled the 1976 assassination of diplomat Orlando Letelier, a critic of the country's then-military regime.
Chile, she said, "was a country that had learned from its past" and would always "be in the first line of the diplomatic trenches in defense of human rights."
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