The latest: Obama, Putin to discuss Syria's political future

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Putin Addresses 70th United Nations Session

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- 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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7:45 p.m.

A U.S. official says President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to discuss a political transition in Syria, but remain at odds about what that would mean for Syrian leader Bashar Assad's future.

The official said Obama reiterated to Putin that he does not believe there is a path to stability in Syria with Assad in power. Putin has said the world needs to support Assad because his military has the best chance to defeat Islamic State militants.

The official said Obama and Putin's 90-minute meeting was dominated by discussions of the crises in Syria and Ukraine, with each consuming about half the discussion.

The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to publicly discuss the private meeting.

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The latest: Obama, Putin to discuss Syria's political future
US President Barack Obama poses for the Peacekeeping Summit family photo at the United Nations headquarters on September 28, 2015 in New York, New York. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
United States President Barack Obama addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
United States President Barack Obama speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari, left, talks with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 28, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: President of Russia Vladimir Putin sits after addressing the United Nations General Assembly on September 28, 2015 in New York City. World leaders gathered for the 70th session of the annual meeting. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
United States President Barack Obama addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Cuba's President Raul Castro arrives for the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
United Nations Secretary Genaral Ban Ki-moon addresses the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly September 28, 2015 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (R) of Denmark taps the gavel to open the session as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon looks on at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 28, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama arrives to speak at the opening session of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters on September 28, 2015 in New York.AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Russian President President Vladimir Putin addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov listen as Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
United States President Barack Obama, bottom, greets United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after addressing the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
United States Secretary of State John Kerry listens as President Barack Obama addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Francois Hollande, president of France, speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
NEW YORK, USA. SEPTEMBER 28,: Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Barack Obama shake hands at a meeting after the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015. (Photo by Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2015-- Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the annual high-level general debate of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, Sept. 28, 2015. (Xinhua/Wang Ye via Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry exits after a meeting at the security council during the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 28, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 28, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - SEPTEMBER 28: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at UN Headquatters September 28, 2015 in New York City. The ongoing war in Syria and the refugee crisis it has spawned are playing a backdrop to this years 70th annual General Assembly meeting of global leaders. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
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7:15 P.M.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia has not ruled out joining air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria but would not send ground troops into combat.

After his first meeting with President Barrack Obama in two years, the Kremlin chief says any Russian action will be in accordance with the international law.

Asked if Russian aircraft could join the strikes against IS, he said, "We are thinking about it, and we don't exclude anything."

Putin says he and Obama discussed the U.S.-led coalition's action against IS.

He says the United States is taking part in efforts to settle the Ukrainian crisis, and that Washington was working with the Ukrainians and the Europeans to maintain diplomatic contacts with Russia to help with a settlement.

The Russian leader says the talks were "very constructive, business-like and frank."

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7 p.m.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have wrapped up their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations summit.

It was their first formal meeting in more than two years. There was no immediate word from either side about what was discussed.

U.S. officials wanted to focus the meeting on Ukraine. Russia sought to emphasize the crisis in Syria. Russia has recently begun a military buildup in Syria and has called on the international community to support the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.S. says Assad must go.

Obama and Putin shook hands quickly for reporters before entering their talks.

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6:05 p.m.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma is calling on the international community to transform the U.N. Security Council into a more representative and inclusive body.

In his speech to the General Assembly, he says "almost no progress" has been achieved on the commitment undertaken by world leaders in 2005 to reform the U.N. Security Council.

Describing it as "unacceptable and unjustifiable," the president added that a continent with a smaller population than Africa is represented by three countries on the U.N. Security Council.

Zuma said, the U.N. cannot pretend that "the world has not changed since 1945. We are no longer colonies. We are free, independent sovereign states."

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6 p.m.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says terrorist organizations are exploiting political crises in the Middle East to expand and achieve their objectives.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, he warns of the dangers of this threat expanding to regions including the Palestinian territories.

He says resolving the Palestinian conflict and allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and to an independent state will effectively eliminate one of the most dangerous pretexts behind extremism and terrorism.

El-Sissi says a U.N.-backed peace plan for Libya is a milestone that should be built on, and calls on Syrian parties to contribute "with all vigor" in efforts to negotiate a political resolution to their country's civil war.

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5:50 p.m.

Speakers at a panel highlighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of barrel bombs say the deadly explosives that target civilians are the main driver behind the ongoing refugee crisis.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, urges the international community to put an end to Assad's indiscriminate use of barrel bombs.

Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian Civil Defense, says : "We are tired of collecting limbs."

They were among speakers at the U.N. Monday as part of a special event on use of the bombs by Syria's embattled government.

Human rights groups say barrel bombs are makeshift shrapnel-packed explosive devices that Syrian forces drop on rebel-held neighborhoods from helicopters, killing thousands of civilians.

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5:20 p.m.

Cuban President Raul Castro is decrying what he says are wars of aggression and interference in the internal affairs of independent states that continue in disregard of the U.N. Charter's aim of ending war.

Castro used his address to the U.N. General Assembly to criticize the "militarization of cyberspace and the covert and illegal use of information and communications technologies to attack other states."

In a veiled swipe at the United States and other rich countries, Castro slammed their outsized impact on the global climate change.

He said those countries waste "national and human resources to an irrational and unsustainable consumerism."

Castro also delivered Cuba's traditional call for the end of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, saying it was necessary to complete the normalization of relations between the two countries.

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5:05 p.m.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations summit.

Obama and Putin shook hands quickly but made no comments to reporters before starting their private discussions.

The sit-down marks the first formal meeting between the two leaders in more than two years. Their already tense relationship has been deeply strained by Russia's provocations in Ukraine.

U.S. officials were hoping to make the Ukraine crisis and the status of a fragile peace plan the centerpiece of the meeting. However, Russia was seeking to emphasize Syria, where it has recently increased its military engagement and called on the international community to support the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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4:30 p.m.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for the mass deaths of Muslim pilgrims four days ago during the hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Putin began a bilateral meeting with his Iranian counterpart by noting the "great tragedy" and expressing condolences to Rouhani and the Iranian public for the deaths of Iranians in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier in the day, Rouhani used his address to the U.N. General Assembly to blame Saudi "incompetence" for the deaths. The Saudi Health Ministry's latest figures released Saturday put the toll at 769 people killed and 934 injured in Mina. Rouhani said thousands died but did not elaborate on specific numbers or provide a source for his figures.

Rouhani praised Iran's improving relations with Russia and thanked Putin for his comments, saying "We are indeed shaken by the tragedy in Mecca and we are thankful to you."

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4:20 p.m.

Like President Barack Obama, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is having his first face-to-face meeting in nearly a year on Monday with Russian President Vladmir Putin.

At their last meeting on the sidelines of an Asian summit in China last November, they agreed the Russian leader would come to Japan during 2015. But ties have been strained by the Ukraine crisis. Like the U.S. and the European Union, Japan imposed sanctions on Russia.

But Abe regards resolution of a long-standing territorial dispute with Russia and deepening economic ties as a key foreign policy priority.

The territorial dispute over islands called the southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan has kept the two nations from signing a peace treaty ending their World War II hostilities.

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3:50 p.m.

France's president has pledged to increase his country's financing for curbing climate change measures to 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) a year by 2020, up from its previous pledge of 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) annually.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Francois Hollande said France must be a good example as host of the upcoming global climate change conference later this year.

Developed countries have promised to transfer $100 billion annually to help developing countries fight climate change and cap the increase in average global temperature at 2 degrees Celsius.

Hollande says the stakes could not be higher at the Paris conference: "Is human kind capable of preserving life on this planet - that is the question," Hollande said.

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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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