World leaders return to UN and face many escalating crises –


NEW YORK (AP) – World leaders will be back at the United Nations on Tuesday for the first time in two years, with an impressive agenda of escalating crises to deal with, including the still rampant COVID-19 Pandemic and a relentlessly warming planet.

Other pressing issues are the growing tensions between the US and China, the uncertain future of Afghanistan under its new Taliban rulers and ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia’s contested Tigray region.

No leaders came to the United Nations last year because the coronavirus hit the globe, so all of their addresses were pre-recorded. That year, the General Assembly offered leaders a choice of coming to New York or staying online, and more than 100 leaders decided to appear in person in the General Assembly Hall.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, opening the week-long event, “will not express concern about the state of the world and will develop a vision to bridge the many gaps that stand in the way of progress”. “, Said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The first country to speak traditionally is Brazil, whose president Jair Bolsonaro has not been vaccinated. He reiterated last Thursday that he has no plans to get the injection anytime soon and justified his rejection by saying that he had COVID-19 and therefore had high levels of antibodies.

A major issue in the run-up to the meetings was the entry requirements of COVID-19 for heads of state and government into the United States – and into the UN headquarters itself. The US requires a vaccination or a recent COVID-19 test, and the United States Nations operate on an honor system whereby everyone who enters the complex confirms that they have no symptoms of COVID-19 and have not tested positive in the past 10 days.

The three most watched speakers on Tuesday morning are expected to be U.S. President Joe Biden, who appears before the United Nations for the first time since his defeat by Donald Trump in the November election, China’s President Xi Jinping, who surprisingly made a video address and recently elected Iranian hardliner Ebrahim Raisi.

Before opening the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Guterres warned strongly that the world could be plunged into a new and likely more dangerous Cold War unless the US and China repair their “utterly dysfunctional” relationship.

The UN chief said in an interview with The Associated Press over the weekend that Washington and Beijing should work together on the climate crisis and negotiate trade and technology, but “unfortunately we only have confrontations today,” including human rights and geostrategic issues, mostly in the South China Sea.

Regarding Biden’s speech, Richard Gowan, UN director of the International Crisis Group, said “the really important question is exactly how he is shaping relations with China”. He predicted that Biden “will not be as open to criticism of China as Trump was, especially in 2019 and 2020,” but rather “will seek to occupy China as a country challenging the rules-based world order.” , and a country that “should not be trusted with running the international system.”

According to the latest speaker list released earlier this month, China’s speech on Friday was due to be given by a deputy prime minister. But the UN confirmed on Monday that Xi will provide the country’s video address instead.

His speech and any comments on the US rivalry will certainly be closely watched and analyzed.

Other leaders who will speak in person during the meeting, which ends September 27, include King Abdullah II Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Leaders making pre-recorded statements this year include the presidents of Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. French President Emmanuel Macron was due to make a pre-recorded statement on Tuesday, but the government said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian would now give the country’s speech virtually on the final day.

France and China have reacted angrily to the surprise announcement by Biden, along with the leaders of Australia and Britain, to supply Australia with at least eight nuclear submarines. Australia had signed a contract worth at least $ 66 billion for a dozen French conventional diesel-electric submarines, construction of which had already begun.

Le Drian said at a press conference on Monday that there was a “crisis of confidence” between the United States and its oldest ally France, as well as Europe, which has been excluded from the new alliance between the US, Britain and Australia with a focus on India. Pacific and aimed at confrontation with China. He said Europeans should “not be left behind” and must define their own strategic interests.