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Mideast conflicts, Brexit likely to take center stage at UN

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the threat posed by Iran and Britain's violent departure from the European Union were likely issues on Thursday during a third day of UN talks. Leaders of countries struggling with war, poverty and inequality were also expressing themselves before the world body.

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio called for an "urgent and imperative" reform of the UN Security Council to give Africa more representation and "an equal word" in international decision-making.

"Africa's patience has been tested," he said, noting the urgent need for representation from the continent.

Africa has no permanent seat on the board. For decades, there have been calls to expand the most powerful UN body. It currently has 10 members elected for two-year terms and five permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, and France.

Competing national and regional interests have hindered board reform so far.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and diplomats from Israel and Saudi Arabia, who blame Tehran for the Sept. 14 attack on major oil sites, are expected to put pressure on their causes.

Iran denied any involvement in the Saudi strike, which rocked global oil prices and temporarily toppled nearly 6% of daily world crude oil production.

Saudi Arabia insists on using Iranian weapons and has invited UN investigators to assess the source of the attacks. The US, France, Britain and Germany also blame Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not refer to the attacks in his speech on Wednesday. He scheduled a news conference for Thursday.

Israel regards Iran as its biggest enemy and has been a major opponent of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon – which Iran denies – and accused the Iranians to violate the provisions of the agreement.

Meanwhile, Israel finds itself in a political stalemate after the national elections, in which neither Netanyahu's Likud party nor Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White secured the parliamentary majority needed to form a government.

Since Netanyahu's election in 2009, Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel, which has expanded its settlements and earned US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk is also due to speak as the EU prepares for the possibility of Britain leaving the bloc without an agreement on 31 October.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not touch the crisis in his inaugural address to the world body on Tuesday when he gave a frantic speech about the dangers and merits of technology.

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