updated 10/3/2007 10:43:37 PM ET 2007-10-04T02:43:37

The U.N. General Assembly’s ministerial meeting that saw an international outcry over military repression in Myanmar, new killings in Darfur and Iran’s nuclear program, closed on Wednesday with a call for global action on climate change, poverty and terrorism.

“The General Assembly is the only forum where we can tackle many of these issues comprehensively,” the assembly’s president, Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia, said at the closing session.

The annual meeting, which opened on Sept. 25, was preceded by high-level sessions on Darfur, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mideast and climate change.

The eight-day meeting drew President Bush, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, along with nearly 100 other heads of state and government and 80 foreign ministers.

The opening session was marked by large protests outside the U.N. building, where thousands of supporters of Israel rallied to protest a speech by Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian delegation appeared to ignore the protests, but on Wednesday, Iran’s foreign minister said his government had warned the United States that it would retaliate if the U.S. made a “mad decision” to attack the country. But Manouchehr Mottaki stressed that he did not expect the Bush administration to launch such an attack.

The general debate was dominated by events in Myanmar, where the ruling military junta cracked down violently on pro-democracy protesters, and in Darfur, where ethnic African rebels overran a peacekeeping base, killing 10 African Union soldiers.

Envoy sent to Myanmar
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon dispatched a special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to Myanmar to meet with government and opposition leaders. The Security Council scheduled a meeting on Friday to hear Gambari’s report and discuss further action.

The attack on the beleaguered African Union force in Darfur sparked calls for the immediate deployment of the long-awaited, 26,000-member joint AU-U.N. force in the region.

Kerim said climate change became “the flagship issue” of the U.N. meeting.

“The latest reports about the accelerating melting of the Arctic have unnerved the experts. We need to be on high alert,” he said.

He also urged quick action to ensure that all nations meet the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, which call on governments to cut extreme poverty by half, stop the spread of AIDS, ensure universal primary education, and expand access for the poor to clean water, all by 2015.

“In sub-Saharan Africa we may not achieve a single goal by 2015. This is indeed an emergency situation,” Kerim warned.

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