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Bitter politics resound at UN General Assembly

Global tensions have been particularly apparent at this year's UN General Assembly, with the most recent set of speakers no exception. Koreans, Iranians, Palestinians and Israelis were among those to clash in New York.

From South Korea to Iran, world leaders and officials on Thursday lamented regional threats plaguing their nations and the international community at the General Assembly in New York, casting doubt on the UN's fractured promise to "maintain international peace and security."

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se lashed out at North Korea at the UN General Assembly, saying it failed as a nation due to its "fanatical and reckless" pursuit of its nuclear weapons program.

"I believe it is high time to seriously reconsider whether North Korea is qualified as a peace-loving UN member, as many countries are already questioning," said Byung-se.

In September, Pyongyang launched its fifth and most powerful nuclear test, saying it obtained the ability to mount a warhead to an intercontinental ballistic missile, a particular concern for non-nuclear neighbors like South Korea or Japan.

The UN Security Council said it would examine new measures to curb the communist nation's nuclear program in light of Pyongyang's second 2016 test.

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'Hate ideology'

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed world powers for the proliferation of terrorism since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, saying their "repression and military intervention" led to an insecure world.

"If the Saudi government is serious about its vision for development and regional security, it must cease and desist from divisive policies, spread of hate ideology and tramping upon the rights of neighbors," said Rouhani.

Tehran sees the predominantly Sunni Muslim kingdom as the region's paramount threat, a view Saudi Arabia would likely echo in reverse. Iran and Saudi Arabia support opposite sides of the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts.

In January, Riyadh cut diplomatic relations with the Islamic republic after protesters attacked Saudi's embassy in Tehran in response to the public execution of a well-known Shiite cleric.

Although Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on Wednesday said he could see a "good relation" with Iran, he nonetheless lashed out at the republic.

Saudi Arabia "calls upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to desist from all of the policies of discrimination, racism and sectarianism and to begin to build positive relations with its neighbors on the basis on the principles of good-neighborliness and non-interference," al-Saud said.

Rouhani also criticized the US for allegedly failing to uphold an international agreement that curbs the Islamic republic's nuclear program

Rouhani also criticized the US for allegedly failing to uphold an international agreement that curbs the Islamic republic's nuclear program

Elusive peace

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the General Assembly to declare next year "the international year to end the Israeli occupation of our land and our people" to mark the 50th anniversary of Israel's seizure of the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas questioned whether the Israeli government is ready to make "a true peace … that will abandon the mentality of hegemony, expansionism and colonization."

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Abbas to address the Knesset, the country's parliament, albeit saying that he would also like to address the Palestinian Legislative Council, the occupied territories' sole chamber.

"I am ready to negotiate all final status, but one thing I will never negotiate is the right to a one and only Jewish state," Netanyahu said.

Palestinian officials have previously dismissed similar offers from the Israeli prime minister, calling them hollow in light of Netanyahu's hardline position on settlement activity and the peace process.

Friday's speakers will include Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who are likely to touch on conflicts in eastern Ukraine and Syria.

Abbas described Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza nearly 50 years ago as abhorrent

Abbas described Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza nearly 50 years ago as "abhorrent"

ls/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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