By Rafaela PRIFTI/
The annual United Nations General Assembly unfolds this week against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, increased pressure for environmental laws, rising tensions and threats of military actions from the United States in the volatile Middle East.
Trade wars, migration, energy supplies, climate change and the eradication of poverty underpin the basic themes of the 193-member General Assembly agenda. The actions of the Trump administration, which has sometimes expressed disdain for international institutions like the United Nations, have created a common denominator.
Converged at the UN Headquarters – on the world’s most prominent diplomatic stage – about two hundred leaders will hold five days of speeches and hundreds of meetings. Notably some leaders are not attending: President Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled prime minister of Israel. Also not expected is President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, regarded by the Trump administration and about 50 other governments as an illegitimate leader.
list of speeches on the floor that begin on Tuesday goes as follows:
Mr. Trump will be preceded by President Jair M. Bolsonaro of Brazil, a polarizing figure at home who is compared with Mr. Trump, in two areas: dismissal of science behind climate change and taunting of critics on Twitter.
After Mr. Trump comes President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, the former general who has come to symbolize the repression of the Arab Spring revolutions, who is facing recent protests at home. The next speaker is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, an autocrat who has bullied critics and whose government is a leading jailer of journalists.
The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, who speaks on Wednesday will assert that Mr. Trump set off recent conflict by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposing sactions that are crippling its economy, while the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will press their case against Iran.
American officials are expected to present what they have described as evidence that Iran carried out the attack with drones and cruise missiles. Iran has denied the accusation. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran in their fight against a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing their country for more than four years, have claimed responsibility.
The United States is trying to build a coalition to deter Iran, although the details on the form of the deterrence are unclear.
CLIMATE ACTION SUMMIT
climate change meeting, American leadership will be absent.
The climate crisis is at the top of the General Assembly’s agenda. About 60 heads of state plan to speak at the Climate Action Summit on Monday, and officials aim to announce initiatives that include net-zero carbon emissions in buildings.
President Trump announced in 2017 that he was withdrawing the country from the Paris Agreement on climate change. But some state governors who have formed the United States Climate Alliance said they would attend the summit on Climate and meet with other delegations.
US AND CHINA
U.S. and China will hold talks about resolving their trade war. Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin was expected to meet with his Chinese counterparts on the
sidelines, suggesting that the administration was seeking to create a more
productive atmosphere for resumed trade negotiations after weeks of acrimony.
The two governments recently paused their escalating tariff battle. Some
administration officials are pushing for Mr. Trump to address other issues
considered sensitive by China, including the pro-democracy protests in Hong
Kong, the repression of Tibetans and the detentions of more than one million
Muslims, mostly ethnic Uighurs.
While lawmakers from both parties have pressured the president to take a strong stand as they put forth bills on the Uighurs, Tibet and Hong Kong, Mr. Trump has never spoken strongly about human rights, and he has openly expressed admiration for Mr. Xi and other authoritarian leaders.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, left, and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea are not expected to meet with each other. America’s key Asian allies are not on speaking terms.
A protracted feud between Japan and South Korea, rooted in the legacy of Japan’s wartime occupation, has led to downgraded trade relations and the end of an intelligence-sharing agreement. A shared objective by all three — North Korea’s nuclear disarmament — is not likely to see much progress if any.
While Mr. Moon is expected to urge Mr. Trump to renew his push for diplomacy with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, no senior North Korean official plans to attend the General Assembly.
VENEZUELA, TURKEY, AFGHANISTAN
will be pressured to penalize Venezuela’s government.
Foreign ministers from 18 nations in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, planned to meet on Monday to discuss what can be done regarding Mr. Maduro, who has presided over the biggest economic collapse in Venezuela’s history and a regional crisis caused by the exodus of millions of his people.
Reports from news agencies state that the push will focus on convincing the European Union to expand economic sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s loyalists, including freezing assets they have in Europe. The Europeans may also be pressed to penalize smugglers of Venezuelan gold into Europe.”
Mr. Maduro, who claimed victory in disputed elections last fall, has retained power despite nine months of demands to resign by a stubborn opposition movement led by the president of Venezuela’s Parliament, Juan Guaidó. Negotiations between the Venezuelan rivals collapsed last week.
Mr. Trump and President Erdogan are expected to meet on the sidelines, but the outcome is unclear at best. There are a range of difficult issues that have pit the governments against each other.
The Trump administration is considering sanctions to punish Turkey, a fellow NATO member, for buying a Russian S-400 missile defense system instead of American-made Patriots. And Mr. Erdogan has expressed growing anger at the United States over their joint operations in the northern part of war-ravaged Syria that borders Turkey.
Mr. Erdogan says the Americans have failed to establish a safe zone large enough to keep Kurdish fighters out of Turkey, which regards them as terrorist insurgents. On Saturday, Mr. Erdogan warned that his forces would take “unilateral actions” along the border if the United States did not act by the end of the month.
Afghanistan will speak last
Last in the list of national delegations addressing the General Assembly this year is Afghanistan. A few weeks earlier talks between the Taliban and the United States that were aimed at ending the 18-year-old war collapsed.
President Ashraf Ghani who is facing national elections next Saturday is not expected to attend. Instead, Afghanistan’s delegation will be led by Hamdullah Mohib, Mr. Ashraf’s national security adviser.Mr. Mohib infuriated the Trump administration in March, when he predicted that peace talks would not end in peace.