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U.N. Receives New Pledges of Aid Totaling $16 Billion

Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, announced Thursday that the organization had received an additional $16 billion in pledges to fight a host of global ills like hunger and malaria, calling it an important signal that the world financial crisis would not impair aid efforts.

“That expression of the global commitment is all the more remarkable because it comes against the background of a global crisis,” Ban said at a news conference.

But his optimism was not shared universally, with some other senior officials suggesting that the ripple effects from the credit crisis would eventually force governments to cut back the amount of money they actually donate.

The new pledges emerged from a special series of meetings attended by 96 heads of state or heads of government, which were conducted on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly, all focused on a series of eight development goals. They included $4.5 billion for education, $3 billion to combat malaria and $1.75 billion in aid to prevent starvation in the Horn of Africa.

Iran Leader Criticizes U.S. Policies Around World

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, reviewing the various conflicts smoldering in his neighborhood, said Thursday that NATO forces paid insufficient attention to humanitarian problems in Afghanistan, that Iraqi forces should be given more responsibility for security and that he was “unhappy” with the situation in Georgia.

He agreed that Iraq was notably less violent than in the past, but attributed that not to American military strategy but instead to handoffs to the Iraqi military. “In every sector where security has been handed over to the Iraqi government, things are calmer and managed better,” Ahmadinejad, in New York for the annual opening of the General Assembly at the United Nations, said in an interview with The New York Times. He said this gradual transfer of power was one of the few areas in which Tehran agreed with U.S. policy.

Seated before an Iranian flag in a small conference room in a Midtown hotel, the president held forth at length on U.S. policy and American history. The subtext running through many of his remarks was that he understood the hearts of the American people, who would express their natural affinity with the Islamic Republic if only Washington did not get in the way.

Growing world problems like war and poverty are the result of U.S. mismanagement of global affairs, he said at one point.