NEW YORK, Sept 17 (AP): History's largest gathering of world leaders fell far short of completing the bold changes United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan sought to fight poverty, terrorism and human rights abuses - but the leaders took a first step.
At the end of a three-day summit, the leaders on Friday adopted a 35-page document by consensus after Venezuela made a formal reservation. When Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson banged the gavel signifying approval, the leaders burst into applause.
The summit's approval of a modest document, which commits governments to achieving UN goals to combat poverty and creates a commission to help move countries from war to peace, came alongside important developments in other areas.
Meetings on the sidelines of the summit marking the United Nations' 60th anniversary produced rare Arab-Israeli contacts, further talks on Iran's nuclear ambitions and a new treaty by dozens of countries aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism.
US President George W Bush, who two years ago questioned whether the United Nations was relevant, surprised many by giving the world body his strong backing. He also won praise for declaring that poverty breeds terrorism and despair and challenging world leaders to abolish all trade tariffs and subsidies to promote prosperity and opportunity in struggling nations.
The summit brought presidents, prime ministers and kings from 151 of the 191 UN member states to the United Nations - a record number according to UN officials. Leaders from the most powerful nations hobnobbed with those from tiny Pacific island states like Tuvalu, and the key phrase was one-on-one "face time."
Instead of adopting Annan's sweeping blueprint to enable the world body to deal with the challenges of a new century, they were presented with a diluted 35-page document. The final document represented the lowest common denominator that all countries could agree on after months of negotiations.
Even then, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez objected to the "abhorrent and anti-democratic means" used to negotiate the document, saying that too few nations had a hand in drafting it. "This organization can have nothing good awaiting it if it follows such procedures," he said.
Later, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque called it "a summit of selfishness, of arrogance and of lies," and Belarus said it was a sad day for the United Nations.
But for the vast majority of countries the final document was welcome, because up until the eve of the summit the differences were so wide that there was no certainty there would be an agreement.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) regretted the opposition from the United States, saying "despite a historic recognition of the international community's need for the ICC, the member-states were compelled to withdraw all language on impunity out of the document."
"This was due to the fact that just one country - the United States - opposed all negotiation proposals, even a compromise proposal which referred to cooperation with the ICC 'in accordance with our respective international legal obligations', an ICC press statement said Friday.