UNITED NATIONS, Sept 17 (AFP): World leaders ended a three-day summit Friday by endorsing a watered-down document on UN reform that fell short of their robust calls for increased efforts to combat terrorism and poverty.
The summit, which had brought together more than 170 leaders in New York, signed off on the 35-page document by acclamation despite stubborn objections raised to the end by Venezuela, Cuba and Belarus.
US Ambassador John Bolton, who played a key role in the bargaining but was accused of limiting the scope of the final text, expressed satisfaction with what he said was the product of "difficult negotiations."
He said the United States would work tirelessly to implement the reforms and added, "We can assure you that the American people and all peoples of the world will be watching closely as we proceed."
The document denounced terrorism in all forms, promoted development, backed reform of UN management, called for establishment of a peace-building commission and a more effective human rights council.
But critics said it was vague on many key points and left out key issues such as disarmament altogether, reflecting persistent divisions within the world body between rich and poor nations.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez spoke just before the document was adopted to complain that its preparation "was confined to a small group of 32 and then an even smaller group of 15 countries."
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque went on the attack after the text was approved, saying, "This has been the summit of selfishness, arrogance and lies."
The agreed plan was a diluted version of UN chief Kofi Annan's ambitious plan to make the 60-year organization more representative and better able to meet 21st-century challenges.
More than 150 heads of state and government addressed the gathering but much of the real business was conducted away from the podium spotlight in sideline meetings to thrash out solutions to old disputes and fresh challenges.
The pressing issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions was set to extend beyond the summit into the UN General Assembly, with a much anticipated speech on Saturday by Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad, who met with the British, French and German foreign ministers on Thursday, is to unveil proposals Saturday aimed at allaying European and US fears that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.
The dominant summit theme of how to combat terrorism was taken up again Friday by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who called for greater international cooperation and a focus on the "true causes" of the problem.
That message was echoed by Jordan's King Abdullah II who made an impassioned plea for "zero tolerance" toward those who promote Islamic extremism.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard noted that the pervasive shadow of terrorism had become "a grim but inescapable fact" and voiced disappointment that the reform document, adopted by the General Assembly on Tuesday, had fallen short in addressing the terrorist threat.
The text of the document failed to establish an agreed definition of terrorism and left out a chapter on disarmament altogether-an omission branded a "real disgrace" by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Terrorism was put at the top of the summit's agenda from the very first day with Annan's opening speech and then by US President George W. Bush.
The most impassioned plea came Thursday from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who said his country was in desperate need of help to confront terrorist "forces of darkness."
Annan opened the three-day summit with a frank assessment of the UN reform document. "We have not yet achieved the sweeping and fundamental reform that I and many others believe is required," Annan said.