Castro, Xi and Rowhani urge cooperation during UN development summit


Cuban President Raul Castro, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rowhani called for global cooperation to ensure global development during a UN summit Saturday.

The world leaders spoke on the second day of a high-level summit dedicated to discussing a set of global development goals, which are benchmarks to be met by 2030, adopted Friday.

Rowhani stressed the importance of protecting the environment as a way to fight terrorism, calling for regional cooperation.

“Terrorists in fact tend to grow and thrive in lands that are deprived and damaged by environmental disasters and easily pour across borders like haze,” Rowhani said.

“Terrorist groups crush the sustainable development goals and the continuation of this situation results in further poverty and environmental destruction.”

During a bilateral meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Rowhani to help solve the political crises in Syria and Yemen.

Xi, who addressed the United Nations for the first time, said equitable development was needed to address the root causes of crises plaguing the world.

“We must hold on to development as our master key, for only through development can we resolve the root cause of conflict, safeguard the fundamental rights of people and meet the ardent hope of our people for a better future,” Xi said.

He called for equitable, innovation-driven development, however, stressing that the approach of “common but differentiated responsibilities” should be applied because countries differ in their capacity to achieve development.

The Chinese president said his country will establish a 2-billion-dollar fund to assist developing countries in meeting the new development goals and will invest a total of 12 billion dollars in least-developed countries by 2030.

Xi also said China would forgive inter-governmental debts owed to China due this year by the poorest countries including small developing nations.

Castro, who also addressed the UN for the first time, called for an end to the US embargo against his country and for the creation of new financial infrastructure to assist developing countries.

Castro called on leaders to change the current international economic landscape by resolving debt issues, building a new financial architecture and ending developed countries’ “monopoly on technology and knowledge.”

While welcoming the re-established diplomatic relationship with the United States, Castro decried the economic sanctions still in place.

“The economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba persists as it has been for half a century bringing damages and hardships on the Cuban people,” Castro said.

The Cuban president noted that despite the sanctions, Cuba has made progress and has even offered limited financial help to other developing countries, which it will continue to provide.

“We shall never denounce honour, human solidarity and social justice, for these convictions are deeply rooted in our socialist society,” he said.

Castro officially took over the presidency of the Caribbean island nation from his ailing older brother Fidel Castro in 2008.

Castro, Rowhani and Xi will also speak on Monday during the high-level debate of the UN General Assembly, which is marking its 70th session this year. US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will also be among the speakers that day.