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The Latest: PM: UN peace fund gets half $300 million needed

United States Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a high-level event on the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change during the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

United States Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a high-level event on the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change during the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The Latest on the high-level U.N. General Assembly meetings (all times local):

11 p.m.

A U.N. fund to help prevent countries from returning to war and stay on the path to peace has received $151 million in pledges — just half of the $300 million it sought for the next three years.

More than 25 countries announced pledges to the Peacebuilding Fund at a conference Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting.

Despite falling short, the U.N. said the money pledged is enough to keep the fund in operation while it seeks solutions for long-term funding.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the closing session that sustaining peace "is a task more critical than ever" and he urged all countries to make sure the fund has the money it needs.

The Peacebuilding Fund currently supports more than 120 projects in 25 countries. The U.N. said Wednesday's pledges will provide money for projects in more than 20 countries.

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8:30 p.m.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says her country is battling a wave of terrorism and is taking steps to stand up to extremism and fight radicalization at home.

Hasina, speaking at the U.N. General Assembly gathering in New York, said officials are dealing with "local fringe elements" who have drawn inspiration from "certain international terrorist entities" and that no country seems immune to such attacks.

Some have accused Bangladesh's secular government of turning a blind eye to the possibility of outsiders radicalizing elements in the Muslim-majority nation.

In July, a group of Islamist militants seized control of a café popular with expatriates in Dhaka, the capital, killing 20, including 17 foreigners. After a long standoff, six extremists were killed.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Bangladesh authorities rejected the claims, saying the jihadi group based in the Middle East has no presence in the country.

"I am confident, with our people's resilience and support, we will make sure terrorists will have no place in our soil," Hasina said.

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3:50 p.m.

The U.N. Security Council is urging all parties in Congo to end violent clashes and open a peaceful political dialogue on the holding of presidential elections.

The council on Wednesday strongly condemned the violence, which it said has led to the death of at least 32 people, including four police officers.

Congo's government has said at least 17 were killed Monday in clashes between security forces and demonstrators opposed to President Joseph Kabila extending his term.

Tensions have risen as indications have increased that Kabila will stay in office after his term legally ends in December.

The statement approved by all 15 council members stressed "the crucial importance of peaceful, credible, inclusive, transparent and timely presidential elections, in accordance with the constitution."

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3:45 p.m.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says that there is no room in the 21st Century society for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Speaking at the opening of the first high-level meeting organized by U.N.'s LGBT core group on the sidelines of the General Assembly Wednesday, Ban said he has been criticized by many people including U.N. member states for his advocacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, but it is a price he prepared to pay.

"Several countries are bucking the tide of history with draconian new punishments for being gay — or even just talking about being gay," Ban said. "These abuses will only end when countries take concrete steps to protect people."

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet attended the meeting.

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3:30 p.m.

World leaders have approved a wide-ranging declaration aimed at addressing the rising number of drug-resistant infections — something the World Health Organization says has the potential to kill millions and undermine the global economy, likening it to "a slow-motion tsunami."

The declaration approved Wednesday recognizes the size of the problem and encourages countries to develop plans to cut back on antibiotic use, make better use of vaccines and fund development of new drugs to combat Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which currently claims the lives of an estimated 700,000 people each year and is expected to rise sharply.

"This is already an historical moment for countries of the world. Heads of states and heads of governments agreed to address a neglected issue," WHO Director General Margaret Chan said.

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2:35 p.m.

President Barack Obama is praising the peace accord in Colombia as an "achievement of historic proportions."

Obama says the U.S. is proud to have played a modest part in encouraging the talks that led to the breakthrough deal to end the Western hemisphere's longest-running war.

Obama noted the deal faces challenges in implementation, including approval by the Colombian people in an October referendum.

Obama made the remarks at a meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. The leaders met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly gathering in New York.

Santos presented Obama with a bound copy of the agreement and thanked the American president for supporting the process.

Santos says U.S. deserves some credit for an agreement that will change both Colombia and the larger region.

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2:10 p.m.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is strongly criticizing suppression of protests by archrival India in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Sharif called Wednesday for an independent inquiry into extra-judicial killings and a U.N. fact-finding mission to investigate what he termed "brutalities."

The South Asian nations' dispute over Kashmir is a perennial topic that surfaced at the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N.

Tensions have intensified since the July 8 killing of a popular Kashmir rebel commander by Indian soldiers. More than 80 people have been killed in the protests. India accuses Pakistan of supporting rebels in Indian-held Kashmir.

Sharif called for dialogue with India over their Kashmir dispute, and said Pakistan was ready for talks to agree on a bilateral nuclear test ban treaty between them.

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2:05 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the mandate of the U.N. to uphold world peace is being threatened by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Abe devoted about half of his address to the General Assembly on Wednesday on the topic of North Korea, which earlier this month conducted its fifth nuclear test in defiance of repeated Security Council resolutions intended to constrain its weapons development.

Abe said North Korea this year fired three missiles into Japan's exclusive economic zone and it was a matter of luck that no ships or aircraft were damaged.

He said after the recent nuclear test the North Korean threat is increasingly grave, and urged unity in the council to confront it.

Abe said, "We must concentrate our strengths and thwart North Korea's plans."

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1:55 p.m.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is lambasting Russia for being "the instigator and major participant" in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Addressing the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Poroshenko accused Russia of "financing, sponsorship, and co-ordination of terrorist groups which have committed countless crimes against my compatriots."

"The terrorist component of the undeclared hybrid war that Russia wages against Ukraine is evident," he stressed.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist rebels and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 9,600 people since it erupted in April 2014, according to the United Nations.

Representatives of Ukraine and separatist rebels agreed Wednesday to pull back troops and weapons from several areas in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to uphold a fragile peace agreement reached in February 2015 in Minsk.

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1:50 p.m.

Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi is making her first speech at the U.N. General Assembly since she formed a democratically elected government in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi says that when the people of Myanmar voted to elect her party to lead a new civilian government last November, shifting from decades of military rule, they were exercising their right to fashion their dreams and aspirations for their country.

She says national reconciliation in the country also known as Burma — an ethnically diverse country riven by long-running civil conflict — is her government's highest priority.

Suu Kyi says that Myanmar does not fear international scrutiny of the situation in Rakhine state where there have been sectarian tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.

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1:30 p.m.

A senior Saudi official is warning that any attempt by the U.S. government to hold his country responsible in connection with elements of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center could backfire.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud also told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that the desert kingdom sees "a good relation with Iran," amid heightened tensions between the two neighbours .

U.S. Congress this month sent President Barack Obama a bipartisan bill that gives victims' families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks. Obama has signalled he will veto the bill.

Al-Saud said any such law "will have negative repercussions," without going into detail.

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12:20 p.m.

Afghanistan says "merciless attacks from terrorist groups" against its civilians are being planned and organized on Pakistani territory.

Vice-President Sarwar Danesh told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that Afghanistan has repeatedly asked Pakistan to destroy known terrorist safe havens but there's been no change in the situation.

Danesh said the Taliban and Haqqani network are trained, equipped and financed there. He said Pakistan has a dual policy, discriminating between what it views as "good and bad terrorists," which undermines the international order.

Danesh said the government was leaving the door open to armed groups willing to seek peace. He said such an agreement is about to be signed with the Hezb-e-Islami group whose leader, Gulbuddin Helmatyar, is a U.S.-designated terrorist.

Pakistan contends that it too is a victim of terrorism.

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11:45 a.m.

President Barack Obama says Africa has faced stiff economic headwinds in recent years but that the continent's broader trajectory is unmistakable. He says "Africa is on the move."

Obama is speaking at a U.S.-Africa Business Forum on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. He's touting increased U.S. private sector investment in Africa along with U.S. government efforts to support trade and commerce.

The White House says participants in the forum are pledging to make $9.1 billion in support available for trade and investment in areas like construction, energy, transportation and health care in Africa.

Obama says Africa is essential to America's progress and to the entire world. But he says current efforts to expand economic ties are "just scratching the surface."

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11:30 a.m.

Colombia's peace accord is standing out as a bright spot for a troubled Latin America at the high-level U.N. General Assembly gathering.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos basked in world praise as he formally submitted the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to the U.N. Security Council.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that "in a time of armed conflicts in many other paces, peace in Colombia sends a powerful message of hope in the world." He praised Santos for his "vision and determination."

Santos received a warm embrace from Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Ramirez after the ceremony.

Earlier in the week, Latin America's bitter divisions were on display when Venezuela and six other Latin America countries walked out as Brazilian President Michel Temer addressed the General Assembly, protesting the impeachment of his predecessor.

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10:50 a.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his country's people are "holding their breath" as they watch the U.S. presidential campaign.

But Abe declined to say who he'd prefer to see win in November.

Abe is in New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. He held a 50-minute meeting Monday in New York with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Speaking at an event organized by Reuters news agency, Abe urged U.S. politicians to explain to Americans the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

President Barack Obama wants Congress to approve the deal, but both Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump oppose it.

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10:30 a.m.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is urging continued international commitment to a Korean peninsula free of nuclear arms, in comments alluding to the recent testing of an atomic weapon by its North Korean ally.

Li urged new efforts to "reach a comprehensive political solution on the Korean nuclear issue," in comments to the U.N. General Assembly.

Beijing has long been North Korea's main source of aid and diplomatic support. But it is showing growing frustration with Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons in defiance of foreign pressure.

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10:15 a.m.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe railed against Western sanctions, urging the United States, United Kingdom and their allies to abolish them.

The 92-year-old leader said that while his country is "the innocent victim of spiteful sanctions," it cannot proceed with the implementation of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

The U.S. has imposed targeted sanctions against Mugabe and 97 others, citing human rights abuses and evidence of electoral fraud. The EU, Australia and Canada also have imposed similar sanctions.

The U.S. also gives humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.

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9:30 a.m.

The U.N. Security Council has taken up Syria's civil war as a temporary truce collapses and international tensions rise.

A day after the U.S., Russia and other powers sought to keep the week-old cease-fire alive, the same set of characters debated the conflict in open setting.

Moscow backs Syrian President Bashar Assad's government; Washington supports what it deems "moderate" rebels. Both say they're committed to fighting the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

A relief organization reported five medical staff killed in an airstrike in northern Syria Wednesday.

It was the latest attack on humanitarian workers.

A strike on a Syrian Red Crescent aid convoy earlier this week promoted international condemnation. The U.N. called it a deliberate attack. U.S. officials say they believe Russia carried out the strike. Russia denies responsibility.

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9 a.m.

The Paris Agreement on climate change has topped the required 55 ratifications — but the countries that have formally joined don't account for the minimum 55 per cent of global emissions needed for the deal to enter into force.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced at the end of a special event that with 31 more countries handing over their official documents on Wednesday, there are now 60 parties that have ratified the deal representing over 47.5 per cent of global emissions.

"We have crossed one of the two thresholds," Ban said. "We need 7.5 per cent more."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he is confident of reaching the magic number of 55 per cent before the next U.N. climate conference, which starts Nov. 7 in Marrakech, Morocco.

He urged people everywhere "to become warriors for the planet."