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Lavrov to tackle hot issues at UN General Assembly

Russia's acting Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has arrived in New York for the 62nd UN General Assembly. The first issue on his agenda is a high-level meeting on Afghanistan at the UN headquarters.

The talks are being chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The meeting will review six years of effort to rebuild the country destabilised by the Taliban insurgency and drug trafficking. It follows high-level talks on Iraq on Saturday.

Mr Lavrov will also take part in the Middle East Quartet meeting.

The Quartet also includes U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the EU High Representative Javier Solana, and Tony Blair, Great Britain's special envoy.

Delegates from the Arab League Countries and representatives of other states in the region will join the talks later on Sunday.

As part of the Middle East Quartet, Russia along with the U.S., the EU and the UN, is helping to mediate an end to the violence. Russia believes there can be progress in negotiating a way to resolve the long-lasting confrontation.

The U.S. proposal to arrange an international meeting on the conflict will also be discussed.

Sergey Lavrov will spend a week in New York and will also take part in meetings on the Iranian nuclear programme, the status of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo, and climate change.

The minister plans to carry out around 30 bilateral meetings.

Meanwhile, the UN is stepping up its support for Iraq, announcing greater aid for the war-torn country to boost security, the economy and the political process, Ban Ki-Moon stated:

“There was a clear agreement that the international community cannot turn away from the war or ignore Iraq. Its stability is our common concern,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stressed.

The Secretary General detailed how the body will help Iraq with issues like border security and better relations with neighbouring countries. The humanitarian issues, such as helping the four-and-a-half-million Iraqi refugees currently displaced, take priority.

“The security is still unstable and I would really hope that the security will be insured as soon as possible. It's true that with the contributions and sacrifice of many multi-national forces and the Iraqi government, security has been improving, but I think much more has to be done. This has direct implications on how the United Nations presence or activities will increase there,” Ban Ki-Moon said.

The high-level UN meeting co-chaired by Ban Ki-Moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki marked the biggest show of international support for Iraq, since 2003.

Al-Maliki noted while Iraq had  grown safer over the past year, the UN's expanding role in the country will lead to greater stability and peace.

“All of these words point to greater support for Iraq, and gives us even more confidence, confidence that we are not alone in tackling the challenges,” the Iraqi Prime Minister said.

The Secretary General has already initiated a deal for Iraq that sets benchmarks for Baghdad in exchange for debt forgiveness.

While this meeting may be over, the discussion of Iraq is expected to continue. The President of the United States and the President of Iran will address the General Assembly this week. Washington is accusing Iran of supporting militias in Iraq. And as the presidents address the world body their words may in fact have a rippling effect in the international community.