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The massive annual United Nations summit returns in person on Tuesday in a world divided by multiple crises starting with Ukraine. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron are due to address the assembly on Tuesday.

After two years of pandemic restrictions and video addresses, the United Nations General Assembly is again asking leaders to come in person if they wish to speak – with one exception made for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But the d*ath of Queen Elizabeth II again disrupted the summit. President Joe Biden of the United States, by tradition the second speaker on the first day, will speak on Wednesday instead.

Day one will feature French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the leaders of the European Union’s two largest economies, who have rallied to impose tough sanctions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This year, Ukraine will be very high on the agenda. It will be inevitable,” top EU diplomat Josep Borrell told reporters in New York.

“There are many other problems, we know that. But the war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves around the world.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged support for countries hardest hit by the fallout from war as she made her way to the General Assembly on Tuesday.

“The brutality of Russia’s war of aggression and its threat to the peaceful order in Europe have not blinded us to the fact that its dramatic effects are also clearly felt in many other parts of the world,” he said. said Baerbock.

But UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders not to forget other priorities such as education, the subject of a special summit on Monday.

“Education is going through a deep crisis. Instead of being the great catalyst, education is fast becoming the great divide,” António Guterres said at the summit.

He warned that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on learning, with poor students without technology being particularly disadvantaged and conflict further disrupting schools.

In a report released earlier this month, the United Nations Development Program said Covid had set back humanity’s progress by five years.

With the war in Ukraine leading to a global grain crisis, hunger could be another major issue on the agenda. On Tuesday, more than 200 NGOs called for urgent action by leaders gathered for the General Assembly to “end the spiraling hunger crisis in the world”.

“Globally, 50 million people are on the brink of starvation in 45 countries,” they said, adding that up to 19,700 people are dying of hunger every day, which is one person every four seconds.

Talks between rivals

Other leaders speaking on Tuesday include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has established himself as a broker between Russia and Ukraine, including through a deal to ship grain whose world badly needs.

Erdogan is also set to meet Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in New York, a dramatic rebound in relations after the Turkish leader’s vehement criticism of the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians.

In the type of last-minute diplomacy common in previous UN sessions, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken convened a first meeting of foreign ministers from Azerbaijan and Armenia since the outbreak of fighting.

“Strong and enduring diplomatic engagement is the best path for everyone,” Blinken told them.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was on the visit despite a hostile reaction from the United States.

He met his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, on Monday, who urged Russia to allow a safe zone outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, whose occupation by Moscow is causing growing concern.

Iran, whose radical President Ebrahim Raisi is making his first visit to the General Assembly and will meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, will also be high on the UN’s week’s agenda. .

In a US TV interview before his arrival, Raisi said Iran wanted “guarantees” before returning to a nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump trashed in 2018.

“We can’t trust the Americans because of the behavior we’ve already seen from them. That’s why if there’s no guarantee, there’s no trust,” he said. he told CBS News’ 60 Minutes.

Biden backs a return to the 2015 deal, under which Iran dramatically reduced its nuclear work in exchange for pledges of sanctions relief.

But the Biden administration says it’s impossible in the US system to promise what a future president would do.

“There is no better offer for Iran,” Colonna said before the meeting with Macron.

“It’s up to them to make the decision,” she said.

Raisi can expect to be dogged by protests during his visit, including by exile groups who have called for his arrest over the mass ex*cutions of opponents a decade after the 1979 Islamic revolution.


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