The world's conflicts, crises and diplomatic dramas — from stumbling efforts to cut poverty to Iran's nuclear drive and Pakistan's flood disaster — will be debated and disputed by global leaders from Monday at the annual U.N. summit.

Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and China's Premier Wen Jiabao will be among about 140 Heads of State and Government attending a Millennium Development Goals (MDG) summit and then the U.N. General Assembly.

World leaders will have a hard time convincing doubtful aid agencies that they are serious about meeting the eight big development goals that were set at the Millennium summit in 2000 with a target date of 2015.

They will try at a review summit from Monday to Wednesday.

Targets such as cutting abject poverty by half, child under-five mortality by two thirds, halting the spread of AIDS and empowering women are all looking too ambitious, according to experts.

But none of the leaders is yet admitting defeat.

“I know there is scepticism but this MDG is a promise, a blueprint, by the world leaders to lift billions of people out of poverty. This must be met and delivered,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told AFP in an interview ahead of the summit.

“Now how can we overcome this scepticism and actual difficulty on the ground? With the right mix of political leadership combined with resources, international aid. Then I think we can still achieve these goals,” he declared.

Final sprint

Mr. Ban estimates that more than $125 billion will be needed in the “final sprint” to 2015 as well as enormous political commitment.

But a U.S. official said: “This is not a time nor a venue when you will be hearing any significant new resource commitments from us nor others.”And many aid groups are scathing at what they see as a lack of all those requirements.

“World leaders are heading toward an extraordinary collective failure unless they deliver an urgent rescue package to get the MDGs back on track, ensuring that nobody goes to be hungry and even the poorest can take their children to a doctor when they are sick,” said Oxfam spokeswoman Emma Seery.

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