Wednesday, 6 September, 2000Plea for world peace
World leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations Millennium Summit have delivered a plea for world peace.
US President Bill Clinton called on leaders to choose compromise over confrontation, and urged the Palestinians and Israeli to seize the fleeting chance for a final Middle East peace agreement.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the new century must go down as one of disarmament.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened the largest gathering of world leaders in history - but on a sombre note.
He asked delegates to stand for one minute's silence for three UN workers who were killed in West Timor by pro-Indonesian militiamen.
The three-day meeting will focus on global issues like poverty, the spread of Aids, and how to share the benefits of globalisation more fairly.
In his opening address Mr Annan described the summit as "a unique event, a unique opportunity and therefore a unique responsibility".
Mr Annan added that when it was possible to decode the human genome and instantaneously transmit information around the world, no mother could understand why their child should be left to die of malnutrition.
A fleeting chance
The first delegate to address the summit was Bill Clinton, who told the gathering that the finances of the UN must be fairly reformed.
With the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the audience, Mr Clinton said: "They have the chance to do it, but like all life's chances, it is fleeting and about to pass. There is not a moment to lose."
Mr Clinton also urged the UN to pursue a robust form of peacekeeping.
"The last century has taught us that there are times when the international community must not merely stand between the sides or on the side lines," he said.
Opportunity for peace
Ahead of meetings between Mr Clinton and the Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak addressed the summit.
He called for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to join him in reaching an agreement, but did not in his speech offer any sign of a possible breakthrough.
"The opportunity for peace in the Middle East is now at hand and must not be missed. Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, now calls for a peace of honour, of courage and of brotherhood," Mr Barak said.
"We recognise that Jerusalem is also sacred to Muslims and Christians around the world and cherished by our Palestinian neighbours. A true peace will reflect all these bonds," he added.
In his address Mr Arafat said the Palestinians had already made significant and painful compromises for the sake of peace.
On the subject of Jerusalem, he warned: "We remain committed to our national rights over east Jerusalem, capital of our state and shelter of our sacred sites."
The Russian president told the summit that the basis for international disarmament had already been laid, and that space should also be kept free of military conflict.
Mr Putin praised the aims of the UN, saying that even a global conflict could not impede the joint work of the UN, not even in the midst of extreme crisis.
The Chinese leader, Jiang Zemin, told the Millennium Summit that there was still a long way to go before a fair and equitable political order was established.
He said the Cold War was over and its mentality had to be abandoned once and for all. But he added that the rights of peoples to choose their own political paths had to be respected.