There is an urgent need to agree upon collective responses to the key issues of today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the United Nations General Assembly.“All the recent history testified that no State – no matter how big or powerful – can cope alone with the challenges of the scope faced by mankind today,” Mr. Lavrov said addressing other high-level officials at the 68th General Assembly debate underway in New York.The Foreign Minister noted that while leadership was required, it must be collective leadership based on the agreed upon actions of the leading members of the international community with strict respect for the principles and norms of international law. Turning to the situation in Syria, which is scheduled to be discussed this evening in the Security Council by Mr. Lavrov and the other members of the Council, the Foreign Minister stressed that a political settlement is “virtually the only possibility today to put an end to this turmoil.”He said that Russia is working energetically for the earliest convening of an international peace conference, with participation of the United States, based on tenets of the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012.He recalled that a “common argument” is, increasingly, that the threat or use of force – a means Mr. Lavrov stressed is ‘directly prohibited by the UN Charter – is the perhaps the most effective method to address international problems, including domestic conflict. However, such use of force in recent years, he said, has proved to be “ineffective, meaningless and destructive.”Highlighting Damascus’s decision to join the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and moving forward on plans to have its chemical arsenal put under international control and eliminated, Mr. Lavrov voiced his support for a conference on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destructive and means of their delivery in the Middle East.On the peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians, the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the US – is due to meet this afternoon, he said.“We believe it is necessary to intensify the activity of the Quartet,” Mr. Lavrov said, urging closer involvement of the Arab countries in the Quartet activities. Mr. Lavrov also spoke about the Iranian nuclear programme and the Korean Peninsula, as well as terrorism and drug trafficking which will be prioritized during Russia’s presidency of the G8 in 2014.The UN General Assembly debate continues through 1 October.

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