by Ray Fleming

Before the content of David Cameron's speech at the UN General Assembly yesterday gets buried beneath detailed media speculation on whether he or David Letterman had the better of the exchanges on the latter's Late Show last night, note should be taken of important things the British prime minister had to say at the General Assembly. His speech followed immediately after President Ahmadinejad's controversial address which had led to the walk-out of the US and EU delegations.

Mr Cameron was therefore the first to have the opportunity of commenting in the General Assembly on the Iranian's leader's remarks and he did so strongly and effectively. His main theme, however, was the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolutions and on this he struck a welcome positive note on the progress countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are making towards establishing stable democracies in difficult circumstances. He used this theme to pledge Britain's support for development aid both as a moral obligation and as enlightened self-interest. He urged other countries that have not honoured aid pledges made in the past to keep their promises even at a time of economic difficulty.

Understandably Mr Cameron made references to the recent violence in the Middle East and to the desperate Syrian situation but he deserves credit for continuing to place development assistance at the forefront of his foreign policy.

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