World leaders have gathered in New York City for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
UNGA began just days after millions of young activists and their supporters marched in thousands of cities worldwide to demand greater action on climate change. More protests on climate are expected on September 27.
The general debate started on September 24 and ends on September 30, with dozens of world leaders scheduled to address the General Assembly.
Follow the live updates:
Friday, September 27
Russia calls political process ‘top priority’ for Syria
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the political process is the top priority for Syria now, so that in the near future Syrian refugees can return to their homes. He said Russia thinks the UN should play a major role in the return of those refugees.
Lavrov accused the Western countries of having “double standards on human rights, banning journalists and influencing media”. “The United States withdrew from the JCPOA, and Washington has started demanding from others to play by its rules,” he said.
The Russian leader also talked about NATO increasing its military spending and said its members “continue to search for enemies”. Lavrov warned against the use of nuclear weapons, calling on the international community not to launch intercontinental missiles.
China aims for diplomatic solution on Korean Peninsula
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called on the involved parties to solve the Korean Peninsula dispute through political means.
Yi said China “remains committed to sovereign rights and equality”, adding that the country has “no intention of exporting our development model or lecture others”. He warned of protectionism and unilateral withdrawal from international treaties.
Yi also said China hopes the situation in Kashmir is “effectively solved”, that the Palestinian issue should be at the top of the international agenda and that world leaders lack courage to act on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Pakistani PM warns of ‘bloodbath’ in Kashmir
During his speech at UNGA, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called on the UN to act on the ongoing lockdown of Kashmir, in a speech where he also covered corruption, climate change and Islamophobia.
“What is the world community going to do,” Khan said, asking “is [the world] going to appease a market of 1.2 billion or is it going to stand up for justice and humanity”.
Khan warned the situation in Kashmir could escalate, claiming Pakistan would be blamed by India for any future conflict and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not thought through the effects of revoking Kashmir’s special status.
“What will happen when the curfew is lifted is a bloodbath,” he said. “If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen.”
The former cricketer also warned of grave consequences if the two nuclear-armed neighbours were to be involved in a war.
“It’s not a threat, it’s a fair worry,” he said, calling on the UN to instead intervene.
Khan earlier accused India and its PM Narendra Modi of drumming up hostility towards Pakistan during the election campaign earlier this year, claiming Modi falsely accused Pakistan of helping armed groups in Kashmir.
Khan calls to combat corruption, climate change and Islamophobia
Imran Khan talked about the need for the world to do more on corruption and money laundering, which according to Khan stopped the developing world from reaching its potential.
“Money laundering is not treated the same way as for instance money from drugs or terror financing,” the Pakistani PM said.
Khan accused the developed world of not showing any political will to combat tax havens, which in turn lead to ruling elites to syphon of money.
The Pakistani leader also urged the world to combate climate change, saying richer countries should be pushed to act on the matter.
The prime minister also addressed Islamophobia, saying Muslims in European countries have been marginalised, warning it would eventually lead to radicalisation.
Khan said that since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Islamophobia has rapidly increased in Western countries.
“Islam is not radical, neither is Judaism, or Christianity, or Hinduism. The basis of all religion is compassion,” Khan said.
No mention of Kashmir in Modi’s address at UNGA
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mention the ongoing lockdown of Kashmir in his addressed at UNGA on Friday. Speaking at the gathering, the PM instead talked about India’s and his government’s achievements.
“Today the message from the world’s largest democracy for the international community is still the same: harmony and peace,” Modi said as he called on the world to “unite against terrorism”, without going into specifics.
Talking about his election victory earlier this year, Modi said his government received “an even stronger mandate than before”.
He also talked about India’s infrastructure plans, including building houses, improving sanitation and a big effort to reduce single-use plastics in the country.
Modi also talked about the country’s efforts to battle climate change and the aim of getting rid of tuberculosis in India.
Trump denies Rouhani claim US offered to lift sanctions in exchange for talks
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the United States offered to lift sanctions in exchange for a meeting, a statement which was subsequently denied by US President Donald Trump
“It was up for debate what sanctions will be lifted and they had said clearly that we will lift all sanctions.”
“But this action wasn’t in a manner that was acceptable, meaning that in the atmosphere of sanctions and the existence of sanctions and the toxic atmosphere of maximum pressure, even if we want to negotiate with the Americans in the 5+1 framework, no one can predict what the end and result of this negotiation will be,” Rouhani concluded.
After Rouhani made his statement, President Trump tweeted that Iran wanted the sanctions lifted before any meeting could take place, which Trump refused to do.
Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2019
Thursday, September 26
Calls for justice for Jamal Khashoggi on sidelines of UN meeting
The fiancee of murdered Jamal Khashoggi made an impassioned plea for justice on Thursday, days before the first anniversary of the Saudi journalist’s death.
Hatice Cengiz, who was preparing to marry Khashoggi when he was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2 last year, complained that “no concrete action” had been taken since the incident to identify and prosecute his killers.
“What is so sad for me is not seeing the punishment of the perpetrators,” Cengiz told a small group of reporters through a Turkish interpreter.
“Imagine that the entire world remains silent over Jamal’s killing. This silence and inertia created huge disappointment on my side.”
Cengiz and UN Special Rapporter Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing, spoke on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Read more here.
US wants Kashmir restrictions lifted
The United States wants New Delhi to quickly ease restrictions imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir, a senior official said on Thursday after President Donald Trump met the leaders of both India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the UNGA.
“We hope to see rapid action – the lifting of the restrictions and the release of those who have been detained,” Alice Wells, the top State Department official for South Asia, told reporters.
She also said that Trump was “willing to mediate if asked by both parties” – although she noted that India has long rejected any outside role.
“The United States is concerned by widespread detentions, including those of politicians and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
“We look forward to the Indian government’s resumption of political engagement with local leaders and the scheduling of the promised elections at the earliest opportunity,” she said.
In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, which had been India’s only Muslim-majority state, fulfilling a long-held goal of his Hindu nationalist movement.
Indian authorities detained a wide range of political leaders and cut off cellular and internet service for ordinary people in much of the Himalayan region.
Countries at UN commit to fighting ‘fake news’
Twenty countries, including France, Britain and India, signed an agreement at the UN on Thursday that aims to stop the spread of ‘fake news’.
The signatories, which also included South Africa and Canada, committed to promoting “independently reported, diverse and reliable” information on the internet, under an accord initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a press freedom watchdog.
“The emergence of a global digital space is shaking up the world of information, bringing with it progress as well as risks,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
He added on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York that misinformation online, especially during election campaigns, “undermined trust in democratic institutions.”
The agreement underlines the responsibility of internet providers to promote trustworthy content and pluralism to escape the current “information chaos,” RSF said in a statement.
President of EU Council Donald Tusk calls on global community to combat threats together
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and one of the most high-ranking members in the European Union, called on the global community to combat threats such as climate change and armed conflict together.
Tusk also reiterated Europe’s dedication to become the world’s first carbon-neutral continent, saying that he “has no doubt that we are in an environmental emergency”.
Tusk also called on members of the UN to “stop flirting with dictators and authoritarian regimes” and that “law should above power”.
Palestinian leader Abbas criticises Netanyahu remarks on annexing Palestinian land
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticised remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the Israeli elections in which Netanyahu promised to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
“Our response if any Israeli government is to proceed [with this plan], all signed agreements with the government of the occupation will be terminated,” Abbas said at UNGA on Thursday.
“It is our right to defend our rights by all possible means regardless or consequences while remaining committed to international law and combatting terrorism,” Abbas continued.
He added that Palestine remains committed to a two-state solution, but that recent developments, including the US decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, have jeopardised a future two-state solution.
The Palestinian leader also called for the UN to be a mediator in peace talks between Palestine and Israel, adding Palestine “will not accept the sole US mediation”.
Abbas also called for Palestine, which is currently a so-called observer state to the UN, to be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.
Turkish and Greek leaders discuss refugees in New York
Greece’s new conservative prime minister met Turkey’s leader for the first time and asked for cooperation in stemming an uptick in migrant and refugee arrivals.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the leaders of the historic adversaries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
“I had a frank discussion with President Erdogan on all major issues from immigration to Cyprus to bilateral matters,” Mitsotakis tweeted after the meeting.
“We agreed to work together to build a better climate for the benefit of our people and stability of the region,” he said.
Iraqi and Iranian leaders meet on the sidelines of UNGA
Iraqi President Barham Saleh met his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the Iraqi news agency reported.
The two leaders reviewed their bilateral relations, and the necessity of strengthening and developing them.
The Iraqi president stressed the importance of cooperation between the two neighbours to preserve regional stability and confront “extremism and terrorism,” according to the agency.
Wednesday, September 25:
Guterres warns of ‘unprecedented threat’ from intolerance, violent extremism
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the world is facing “an unprecedented threat from intolerance, violent extremism and terrorism” that affects every country, exacerbating conflicts and destabilising entire regions.
“The new frontier is cyber-terrorism — the use of social media and the dark web to coordinate attacks, spread propaganda and recruit new followers,” the UN chief said at a Security Council ministerial meeting on Wednesday organised by Russia on cooperation on countering terrorism between the UN and three Eurasian organisations.
He stressed that the response to the “unprecedented” threat “must complement security measures with prevention efforts that identify and address root causes, while always respecting human rights.”
Zimbabwe president calls on US, Europe to lift ‘illegal sanctions’
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa called on the US and Europe to lift “illegal sanctions” that he blames for hindering his country’s economic recovery, during his address to the UNGA on Wednesday.
Mnangagwa made no mention of alleged political repression under his rule, which has diminished hopes that Zimbabwe might be on the brink of change after longtime leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in 2017.
More than 50 government critics and activists have been abducted in Zimbabwe this year.
Critics have accused Mnangagwe of resorting to strong-armed tactics as opposition to his government grows amid crippling inflation, debilitating water shortages and chronic power cuts.
Trump says he put ‘no pressure’ on Zelensky to act on Biden
US President Donald Trump said he placed “no pressure” on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
Trump commented during a meeting in New York with Zelensky on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting.
Asked about their July telephone call, Zelensky said it was a “good phone call” and “normal” and that he and Trump discussed “many things.”
Zelensky added: “Nobody pushed me.”
Colombia’s Duque blasts Venezuela’s Maduro
Colombia will give the UN a dossier of “conclusive proof” of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s support for terrorist groups, President Ivan Duque said in his speech to the organisation’s General Assembly.
“My government has irrefutable and conclusive proof that corroborates the support of the dictatorship for criminal and narco-terrorist groups that operate in Venezuela to try and attack Colombia,” Duque told assembled world leaders in New York, holding up a copy of the dossier.
“This dossier, of 128 pages, contains the evidence that shows the complicity of the regime of Nicolas Maduro with the terrorist cartels that attack the Colombian people,” he said.
WHO chief: Ebola outbreak ‘on the retreat’
The World Health Organization chief said the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history is “on the retreat,” but he warned that any attack by the many armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) could affect health workers’ hard-won gains.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at the UN headquarters that it’s not a good idea to predict an end to the outbreak that has killed nearly 2,000 people since August of last year.
US, Japan announce bilateral trade agreement
US President Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the “first stage of a phenomenal new trade agreement” between the two countries.
Trump and Abe met on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting to finalise the bilateral trade agreement.
In remarks before signing the deal, Trump said Japan will open new markets to approximately $7bn in US agricultural products and Japanese tariffs will now “be significantly lower or eliminated entirely for US beef, pork, wheat, cheese, corn, wine and so much more.”
For his part, Abe called the deal “a win-win” for both nations, saying the agreement brings “benefits to everyone in Japan as well as in the US, namely consumers, producers and workers.”
Trump meets Venezuelan opposition
US President Donald Trump reinforced his support for the Venezuelan opposition as he met its delegation to the UNGA, boosted aid funding and barred members of President Nicolas Maduro’s government from entering the US.
Trump has pointedly refused to rule out a US military intervention in Venezuela, but he said his first objective was to help secure a peaceful political transition from Maduro to opposition leader Juan Guaido.
“We will stand with the Venezuelan people every single day until they are finally freed from this horrible and brutal oppression,” Trump said. “They will be freed. It will happen.”
Rouhani: Iran’s response to talks under sanctions is no
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ruled out negotiations with the US on the nuclear issue as long as sanctions remained in place.
“I would like to announce that our response to any negotiation under sanctions is negative,” Rouhani said in an address to the UNGA.
Hassan Rouhani refuses US nuclear talks until sanctions removed
Speaking on the second day of the UNGA gathering, Rouhani said Iran had “resisted the most merciless economic terrorism”.
He also warned that the Gulf region was “on the verge of collapse, as a single blunder can fuel a big fire”.
Rouhani said the US had failed to solve conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and was not capable of playing a role in calming tensions and bringing peace to the region now.
Watch Rouhani’s full speech.
Lebanon’s Aoun appeals for safe return of Syrian refugees
Lebanese President Michel Aoun appealed to world leaders to work on the safe return of refugees to Syria.
He said the presence of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Lebanon had exacerbated the country’s worsening economic crisis.
He said their safe return was a joint international responsibility that should be dealt with urgently.
Iraq will not be a field for proxy wars, says president
Iraq’s President Barham Salih said he would not let his country become a battlefield for other countries’ conflicts to play out.
Salih told the UNGA gathering: “Iraq will not be a launching pad for aggression against any of our neighbouring countries.”
Iraq is squeezed between the two powerful rivals in the region, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
He called the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities a dangerous development.
Salih bemoaned that Iraq has long been unstable but struck a positive note, saying his country was emerging from years of conflict and looking toward economic development.
Saudi Arabia in consultation on next steps after attack
Saudi Arabia is in consultation “with friends and allies about the next steps to take” after an attack on September 14 on the world’s biggest crude oil processing facility, but is waiting for the findings of an investigation, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.
“The UN sent people to be part of the investigation, other countries have sent experts to be part of the investigation so when the team that’s investigating has concluded its investigations we will make the announcements publicly,” al-Jubeir told reporters on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN.
EU’s Mogherini: Iran nuclear deal in place, but ‘difficult’ to preserve
The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal are committed to preserving the pact though it is “increasingly difficult,” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after a meeting of the parties at the UN.
“We will continue to work together with unity of purpose to try and preserve it without ignoring the challenges,” Mogherini said.
“It is in the interests of all to remain committed to the deal, but it is becoming increasing difficult,” she added.
No mention of Trump in Zelensky’s address
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made no mention of the US scandal swirling around him in his first address before the UN General Assembly, choosing instead to focus on the horrors of war and his country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.
His speech came less than day after a formal US House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump was launched, a development that was sparked partly by a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky.
At issue is whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from Ukraine to undermine Democratic foe Joe Biden and help his own re-election.
Iran nuclear deal signatories meet to discuss future
All of the remaining signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are meeting at the UN headquarters to discuss its future.
Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters said: “Inside the security council that meeting is taking place just down the corridor.”
“The US pulled out but other signatories are trying to keep the deal alive. You have China, Russia, Germany, France and the UK meeting with Iran,” he added.
“We are expecting Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, to brief reporters when the meeting comes to an end.”
Pompeo: US imposing sanctions on Chinese entities over Iran oil
The US is imposing sanctions on certain Chinese entities for knowingly transferring oil from Iran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, in what he called fresh actions to intensify pressure on Iran.
Speaking at an event on the sidelines of UNGA, Pompeo also said Washington was going to ramp up efforts to educate countries on the risks of doing business with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to disentangle them from the Iranian economy.
‘Zero’ possibility of Rouhani-Trump meeting: Iranian official
The possibility of a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his US counterpart Donald Trump is “zero”, an Iranian official said, urging Washington to lift sanctions and return to the 2015 nuclear deal if it wants negotiations.,
Speaking before a ministerial meeting of the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters news agency: “Diplomacy is the only way to resolve issues … this meeting gives us an opportunity to review where we are.”
Speaker schedule and what to expect
After a busy Day 1, Day 2 is upon us.
Go here to find out who is speaking and what to expect.
Tuesday, September 24
Britain’s PM dodges Brexit in UNGA speech
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson barely mentioned Brexit in his speech to the UNGA, instead focussing on the promise and dangers of technology.
Johnson said he was “profoundly optimistic” about technology’s future – if humanity was able to find “the right balance between freedom and control”.
His only comment on Brexit was wrapped up in Greek mythology and the story of Prometheus, who steals fire in defiance of the gods condemning him to eternal torture – having his liver pecked out by an eagle day after day.
It was a bit like Brexit, Johnson said “if some of our members of parliament have their way”.
Johnson has had to cut short his visit to the UN after Britain’s highest court ruled his decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks in the run-up to the October 31 Brexit deadline was unlawful. MPs will return to the house on Tuesday.
Japan’s PM wants to meet North Korea’s Kim
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the UNGA he was “determined to meet Kim Jong Un myself face-to-face, without attaching any conditions” in an effort to normalise relations and settle “the unfortunate past”.
Japan and North Korea are uneasy neighbours.
Japan colonised Korea in the years before war split the peninsula into two nations, and numerous issues from Japan’s close relationship to the United States to the abductions of Japanese citizens over many years have kept relations tense.
Abe said he also supported US President Donald Trump’s approach to the North “by which two leaders talk candidly with each other and try to talk about the issues at hand and see a bright future ahead”.
Leaders pay tribute to Gandhi on 150th anniversary of birth
World leaders paided tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on the 150th anniversary of his birth at a United Nations event on Tuesday, and praised his lasting legacy.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of Gandhi’s ability to bring change through non-violent means and affect the lives of billions of people from all over the world.
“Gandhiji was an Indian, but he didn’t belong only to India,” Modi said, using a respectful form of address.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Gandhi’s work should “inspire us in our efforts to leave no one behind” while New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke of the relevance of Gandhi’s legacy of non-violent political protest for today’s society.
“Gandhi’s legacy is as relevant today as it ever was,” she said. “It calls on us to reject bigotry and embrace kindness and truth. It calls on us to strive for equality no matter how difficult and entrenched systems are and it demands that we recognise the lasting value of peace.”
Luxembourg PM says everyone must challenge hate speech
Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told the United Nations on Tuesday that as an openly gay politician he could not accept hate speech and that everyone had a duty to challenge it.
In what advocates said was the first speech at the UN by an openly gay world leader on LGBT rights, Bettel called on world leaders to stop freedom of expression from leading to harm.
“We are all part and we all have a responsibility,” Bettel told an LGBT meeting during the General Assembly.
“This starts from … your politicians but it goes also to a family evening, to dinner with friends, with family. If they have hate speech you can never accept it.”
Bettel, 46, who was re-elected for a second term in 2018, is one of three openly gay and lesbian leaders in the world and married his partner in 2015.
UK’s Johnson calls on Iran to release jailed nationals
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for the immediate release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other dual nationals imprisoned in Iran during a meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in New York on Tuesday, a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement.
Johnson also raised Britain’s “deep concern about Iran’s destabilising activity in the region, including the attacks on the Aramco oil facilities, and insisted this must stop,” the spokesperson said.
The prime minister stressed support for the Iran nuclear deal and the need for dialogue, “including on a comprehensive successor deal.”
US leads China condemnation over ‘horrific’ repression in Xinjiang
The United States led more than 30 countries on Tuesday in condemning what it called China’s “horrific campaign of repression” against Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang, in an event on the sidelines of the UNGA that was denounced by the government in Beijing.
Calling for UN access to the area, where the world body has said one million Uighurs are being held in detention camps that China calls vocational skills training centres, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said the United Nations and its member states had “a singular responsibility to speak up when survivor after survivor recounts the horrors of state repression”.
China criticised the US for organising the event, while Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the measures taken in Xinjiang were necessary to prevent ‘extremism and terrorism’.
Macron says conditions in place for Trump-Rouhani talks
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he believed the conditions for the leaders of the United States and Iran to meet were now in place, but it was their decision on whether to move forward.
“I believe that the conditions in this context for a rapid return to negotiations have been created,” Macron told reporters after meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and President Donald Trump earlier on Tuesday.
“There is a common intent to progress and to not just find the terms of a de-escalation, but build a long-term accord,” he said. “But it depends on the will of both sides.”
Macron meets Iran’s Rouhani after seeing Trump
Macron met Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday, shortly after holding talks with US President Donald Trump, a French presidential official said.
Macron, who had already met Rouhani for 90 minutes on Monday night, is trying to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran in the hope of opening a negotiation between the two sides as well as regional and international powers.
Pakistan mediating with Iran after Trump request, PM Khan says
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said he spoke to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday after US President Donald Trump had asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran.
“I can’t say anything right now more than this, except that we are trying and mediating,” Khan told reporters on the sidelines of the UN meet.
Macron urges Iran, US to pursue negotiations
French President Emmanuel Macron said the “time has come” amid heightened tensions in the Middle East for the United States and Iran to hold talks, warning the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities had “changed the situation” in the region.
“Today we have a risk of serious conflict based on a miscalculation or a disproportionate response,” Macron said. “Peace is at the mercy of an incident … and the consequences [of conflict] for the region would be very serious; too serious for us to live on the edge of a cliff.”
“Now more than ever is the time for negotiations among Iran, the United States, the signatories of the JCPOA and regional powers, centred on the region’s security and stability,” Macron added, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“It takes courage to build peace,” he said, adding that he would continue his recent efforts to bring all sides to the negotiating table.
Merkel wants US-Iran talks but does not see sanctions lifted first
German Chancellor Angela Merkel would welcome talks between the United States and Iran, but after speaking to the presidents of both countries, said it was unrealistic to expect Washington to lift sanctions on the Islamic republic first.
“I would welcome it if it came to talks between the US and Iran but it won’t work that all sanctions are first taken off the table and then there are talks. I think that is not realistic,” Merkel said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had said he was open to discuss small changes, additions or amendments to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers if the US lifted sanctions.
Seoul calls for ‘peace zone’ between Koreas
South Korea’s president called for economic engagement with North Korea in return for progress on nuclear disarmament and urged the establishment of an “international peace zone” on the divided peninsula.
Moon Jae-in said his nation “will guarantee the security of North Korea” and expressed hope “North Korea will do the same for South Korea”.
He added that mutual security assurances would allow faster nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula, which is still technically in a state of war, and that UN offices and other international groups could be stationed at the proposed “peace zone”.
Venezuela defends Cuba ties after Trump speech
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said his country would continue working with Cuba, after US President Donald Trump earlier called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a “Cuban puppet” in his speech.
Arreaza called Trump a “puppet of imperialism and capitalism” and said other countries in the region that recognise Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido were puppets of the United States.
Qatar’s emir slams ‘Israeli occupation’
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani denounced the “continuation of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian t erritories and the Arab territories in general”.
“The ensuing unlawful practices and, in particular, expansion of settlements, Judaisation of the city of Jerusalem, unjust and strangling blockade of the Gaza strip and intensification of settlement activity in the Syrian Golan heights … are happening in overt defiance to the UN and its resolutions,” Sheikh Tamim told the UN General Assembly.
He went on to call for a “permanent peace based on justice”, including “the establishment of the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital and the end of Israeli occupation of all occupied Arab lands”.
Sheikh Tamim‘s comments came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier criticised Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Emir of Qatar calls for stability in the Gulf
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, called for stability in the Gulf amid rising tensions in the region.
“The strategic importance of the Gulf makes stability in that region a regional and international need,” Sheikh Tamim said.
“We stress our firm position to keep the region clear of risks by resolving differences through dialogue based on common interests and respect for the sovereignty of its states,” he added.
Nuclear power should be free for all or banned, Erdogan says
The emir also repeated his calls for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to end their “unjust, unlawful and unjustified” blockade of Qatar that was imposed in June 2017.
Read more here.
Turkey, Nigeria condemn Islamophobia
Presidents of Turkey and Nigeria have condemned Islamophobia in their addresses.
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said hate speech was a disease turning into a “raging insanity”.
Meanwhile, Muhammadu Buhari highlighted the growing threat of hatred towards Muslims, citing the Christchurch mosque attacks earlier this year.
Erdogan issues reminder over Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reminded world leaders of the humanitarian cost of Syria’s civil war.
He called for an end to the nearly nine-year-old civil war and said that many of the more than three million asylum seekers residing in Turkey are Syrian. The number of Syrian children born in Turkey has reached half-a-million.
Erdogan also said people must “never forget” the world’s “baby Alans” as he held up the photo of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old boy who died in 2015 while trying to reach Turkey’s shores. The image of the child’s lifeless body prompted outrage and drew the world’s attention to the plight of refugees.
Erdogan: Nuclear power should be free for all or banned
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the UN General Assembly nuclear power should either be free for all states or banned completely.
He also warned that the “inequality” between states which have nuclear power and those which do not undermines global balances.
“The position of nuclear power should either be forbidden for all or permissible for everyone,” Erdogan said.
El-Sisi: Libya needs to be saved from ‘chaos’
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said a concerted effort was needed to stop armed groups taking control of Libya and to prevent external actors from intervening there.
El-Sisi said in his UNGA speech that the oil-producing North African state needed to be saved from “the ensuing chaos by militias and prevent the intervention of external actors in Libya’s internal affairs”.
Egypt is a supporter of Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying to take the capital, Tripoli, from forces allied with the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
Trump slams Iran’s ‘bloodlust’
US President Donald Trump called on nations around the world to tighten the economic noose around Iran, saying no country should support Tehran’s “bloodlust”.
Analysis: Trump lashes out at China, Iran at UNGA
“One of the greatest security threats facing peace-loving nations today is the repressive regime in Iran,” he said.
“The regime’s record of death and destruction is well known to us all. Not only is Iran the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism, but Iran’s leaders are fuelling the tragic wars in both Syria and Yemen, and at the same time the regime is squandering the nation’s wealth and future in a fanatical quest for nuclear weapons.”
Read more here.
Trump attacks policies of ‘open border activists’ as evil
Policies pushed by “open border activists” were hurting the very people they supposedly aimed to help, US President Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly as he called migration one of the world’s must crucial challenges.
“Today I have a message for those open border activists who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of social justice: your policies are not just. Your policies are cruel and evil,” Trump said.
“You are empowering criminal organisations that prey on innocent men, women and children. You put your own false sense of virtue before the lives, wellbeing and countless innocent people,” he added. “When you undermine border security, you are undermining human rights and human dignity.”
China’s trade practices unfair, Trump says
“It has embraced an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation … forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property, and also trade secrets on a grand scale,” Trump said.
“As far as America is concerned, those days are over.”
Trump: Future belongs to ‘patriots’ not ‘globalists’
“Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first,” he said.
“The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbours and honour the differences that make each country special and unique.”
‘Fallacy’ to say Amazon is the heritage of humankind: Bolsonaro
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has come under heavy international criticism for wildfires that are raging in the Amazon, said that the rainforest is his country’s sovereign territory.
“It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is the heritage of humankind, and a misconception confirmed by scientists to say that our Amazon forests are the lungs of the world,” Bolsonaro told the UN General Assembly.
“The Amazon is not being devastated, nor is it being consumed by fire, as the media says,” he added.
Satellite data from the Brazilian Space Agency has shown a sharp increase in deforestation and forest fires in the past year.
Trump to say US does not seek conflict
US President Donald Trump will say the United States does not seek conflict with other countries but will defend its interests, according to excerpts from his address, scheduled to be delivered later on Tuesday.
“The US does not seek conflict with any other nation. We desire peace, cooperation, and mutual gain with all. But I will never fail to defend America’s interests,” Trump will say, according to excerpts from his speech provided to the Reuters news agency.
UN chief warns of world splitting in two
There is a looming risk of the world splitting in two with the two largest economies, the United States and China, creating rival internets, currencies, financial rules “and their own zero-sum geopolitical and military strategies,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned.
Guterres said in his “state of the world address” that the risk “may not yet be large, but it is real”.
He added that “we must do everything possible to avert the Great Fracture” and maintain a universal economy in a multipolar world, before also warning of an impending climate crisis, spreading insecurity and rising inequality.
Guterres: ‘Alarming possibility of conflict in the Gulf’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities as “totally unacceptable”, cautioning the strikes had raised the possibility of military confrontation in the Middle East.
“We are facing the alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf, the consequences of which the world cannot afford,” he said.
“We must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint.”
Guterres opens UNGA debate
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the first day of debate at UNGA, warning the world was in a state of “disquiet”.
UN’s Guterres We have 12 years to save Earth | Planet SOS
“A great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted or left behind,” Guterres said.
“Machines take their jobs, traffickers take their dignity, demagogues take their rights, warlords take their lives, fossil fuels take their futures and yet people believe in the spirits and ideas that bring us to this hall,” he added. “They believe in the United Nations … and we the leaders must deliver for we the peoples.”
Online outrage after Trump tweet on Greta Thunberg
Reactions poured out on social media in support of Greta Thunberg after US President Donald Trump appeared to mock the teenage activist who gave an impassioned speech on climate change.
Read more here.
Guterres to open UNGA debate
The stage is ready for world leaders to inaugurate the first day of debate at UNGA. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will kick off proceedings at 13:00 GMT when he is due to give his opening statement.
Read more here.
Monday, September 23
Tech firms agree to beefed up watchdog on ‘extremist’ content
A global working group set up by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft to remove ‘extremist’ content online will become an independent watchdog working “to respond quicker and work more collaboratively to prevent” attacks like Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
“In the same way that we respond to natural emergencies like fires and floods, we need to be prepared and ready to respond to a crisis like the one we experienced,” Ardern told reporters on the sidelines of the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which was established in 2017, will become an independent organisation led by an executive director and governed by an operating board made up of company representatives. There will be an independent advisory committee made up of government and civil society members.
Read the full story here.
‘The tide is turning’: Guterres says climate progress being made
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said progress was being made as the climate summit wrapped up in New York on Monday.
“Action by action the tide is turning,” Guterres said. “But we have a long way to go. We are not yet there.”
Guterres listed 77 countries that had committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, although those countries combined produce significantly less than half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Seventy nations also pledged to do more to fight climate change, 100 business leaders promised to join the green economy and one-third of the global banking sector signed up to green goals.
Still, the large number of coal power plants that are scheduled to be built is “a looming threat,” Guterres said, repeating his call for no new coal plants to be built after next year.
‘More fuel to the flames’: Climate advocates shun UN inaction
As the Climate Action Summit wrapped up at the United Nations in New York City on Monday, environmental activists almost universally concluded that not enough had been done to stop global warming and stem the climate crisis.
Despite some significant commitments from small and medium-sized countries to limit emissions – and a few other notable announcements – the long-heralded gathering lacked any big moves by major nations.
Read the full story here.
France, Germany, Britain leaders say Iran behind Saudi attack
France, Britain and Germany said it was clear Iran was responsible for an attack on Saudi oil facilities on September 14 and called on Tehran to agree to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programmes and regional security issues.
“The time has come for Iran to accept a long-term negotiation framework for its nuclear programme, as well as regional security issues, which include its missile programmes,” the three governments said in a joint statement after French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met during the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders.
Read the full story here.
Trump’s top Iran adviser presses for action against Iran
Brian Hook, the top Iran adviser of US President Donald Trump, has expressed frustration over the international community’s supposed “lack of action” against Iran, as he reiterated blame on the Islamic republic for the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
Without presenting the proof of his claim, Hook maintained that Iran was behind the attacks, citing “intelligence and open-source analysis”.
“The attacks were more complex, larger in scale, and more precise than anything Houthis are capable to executing,” he said, adding that “accepting the Iranian version of events undermines international security”.
Hook made his case on Monday at the Asia Society in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.
(By Samira Sadeque in New York)
Trump to discuss Iran in UN speech
Trump said he would discuss Iran in his speech before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
Trump, speaking to reporters as he met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said Iran was under “more pressure than they’ve ever had” as a result of his maximum-pressure campaign of economic sanctions.
“A lot of things are happening with respect to Iran,” Trump said. “A lot more than you know. I’ll be discussing it a bit tomorrow.”
Trump says meeting with Kim Jong Un ‘could happen soon’
US President Donald Trump said on Monday that a fourth summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “could happen soon” amid stalled nuclear diplomacy.
Trump did not elaborate in comments to reporters ahead of the start of UN meetings in New York, and it was not clear if concrete plans were in the works for another meeting meant to address a growing diplomatic impasse over North Korea’s development of nuclear-armed missiles targeting the US mainland.
When asked as he arrived at the UN when he planned to meet with Kim Jong Un, Trump told reporters: “It could happen soon. It could happen soon.”
Trump meets later on Monday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the driving force behind the initial diplomacy that led to the first Trump-Kim summit last year and replaced threats of war in 2017.
Trump also will speak on Tuesday before the UN General Assembly, two years after he used that podium to deride Kim Jong Un as “little Rocket Man” and to threaten to destroy North Korea.
Trump says hopes India, Pakistan can come together on Kashmir
US President Donald Trump said on Monday he hoped India and Pakistan could come together to resolve their differences over Kashmir but Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would like the US to use its influence to help.
Trump and Khan met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Trump is to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this week.
The president reiterated to Khan as they began their meeting with reporters present that he would be willing to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
Lima Group willing to impose sanctions on Venezuela’s Maduro
Latin American countries on Monday said they were willing to implement sanctions to force out Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro but expressed deep reservations about any use of force.
The Lima Group, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, did not specify what type of sanctions. But in a joint statement, the countries made clear that they did not support a military intervention to depose Maduro.
“We do not support any invocation to the use of force or military interventions,” Peruvian foreign minister Nestor Popolizio told reporters after the meeting in New York, where world leaders are gathering for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
Trump upbeat on Johnson’s idea of new Iran deal
US President Donald Trump responded positively to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s idea of creating a new nuclear deal with Iran, saying that he respected Johnson and was not surprised he had floated the idea.
“I respect Boris a lot and I am not surprised at all that he was the first one to come out and say that,” Trump said of Johnson’s comment that: “Whatever your objections to the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal.”
In fact, others including French President Emmanuel Macron, have spoken about the possibility of a new deal with Iran for more than a year.
Macron to meet Trump, Rouhani to push mediation efforts
French President Emmanuel Macron said he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday and US President Donald Trump on Tuesday as he seeks to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran.
An attack on Saudi oil facilities on September 14, which the United States and Saudi Arabia blamed on Iran, was a turning point, Macron told reporters. Iran has denied involvement.
Trump makes unscheduled stop at climate summit
US President Donald Trump made an unscheduled brief stop at the UN’s Climate Action summit.
With the lights down and the programme under way, Trump spent about 15 minutes at the summit, but did not speak.
He listened attentively as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and India’s Narendra Modi spoke before leaving.
Venezuela opposition sees Trump role as ‘clear sign’ of more pressure on Maduro
Julio Borges, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido‘s chief diplomat, said that US President Donald Trump’s attendance at a meeting solely about Venezuela during the UN General Assembly this week was a “clear sign” that pressure on President Nicolas Maduro would increase.
Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are expected to attend a meeting with Western Hemisphere leaders to discuss Venezuela on Wednesday, Borges said.
Thunberg to UN climate summit: ‘You’ve stolen my dreams’
Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg told world leaders at the opening of a United Nations conference on Monday that they had stolen her childhood with “empty words”.
“My message is that we will be watching you. This is all wrong,” Thunberg said, giving an emotional speech that appeared to move the audience at the UN General Assembly hall in New York City.
“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” she added, addressing the UN Climate Summit.
Greta Thunberg to UN climate summit: You’ve stolen my dreams (3:15)
“You have come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my childhood with empty words. Yet I’m one of the lucky ones.
“People are suffering, people are dying. All you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear.”
Read the full story here.
Stage set for US, Iran showdown at UN General Assembly
The US and Iran are set to put forward their competing visions of security in the Middle East to the United Nations General Assembly this week, with US President Donald Trump expected to address the gathering of world leaders on Tuesday, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a day later.
As tensions continue to simmer in the Middle East following an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields and the exchange of sharp rhetoric between Washington and Tehran, the two leaders are holding out hope for diplomacy, with Trump saying he is “a very flexible person” and Rouhani extending a “hand of friendship and brotherhood” towards its regional neighbours.
On Sunday, Trump again left open the possibility of an unscheduled meeting with Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Read the full story.
UN climate summit: ‘A moment of truth’
Days after millions of young people took to the streets worldwide to demand emergency action on climate change, leaders gathered at the United Nations on Monday to try to inject fresh momentum into stalling efforts to curb carbon emissions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned governments that they would have to offer action plans to qualify to speak at the summit, which is aimed at boosting the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat global warming.
World leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were due to address the one-day gathering, alongside companies working to promote renewable energy. Some 60 leaders were scheduled to attend the summit.
Read the full story here.
Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?
Al Jazeera analysed 6,112 roll-call votes from the UN General Assembly from 1946 to 2018.
Check out the interactive and explore the biggest issues facing the planet and see how they have evolved.
Enter the interactive here.
Saturday, September 21
Youth leaders at UN demand bold climate change action
Youth leaders gathered at the United Nations to demand radical action on climate change.
The UN invited 500 young activists and entrepreneurs to take part in Saturday’s meeting – the first of its kind – at the body’s headquarters in New York.
It came days before a climate action summit scheduled to begin on Monday, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called to seek greater commitments from world leaders to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris accord to avert runaway global warming.
Read the full story here.
Friday, September 20
‘No Planet B’: Millions take to streets in global climate strike
Millions of students and other activists abandoned school and work on Friday to join mass protests calling for action against climate change before a UN summit.
From New York to Guatemala City, Sydney to Kabul, and Cape Town to London, protesters in hundreds of cities around the world took the streets, demanding their governments take urgent steps to tackle the climate crisis and prevent an environmental catastrophe.
Read the full story here.
Thursday, September 19
US issues visas to Rouhani, Zarif
The United States issued visas allowing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to travel to New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations next week, Iran’s UN mission said.
Iran’s foreign minister spokesman said in a tweet that Zarif was set to leave for New York on Friday.
Trump said earlier in the week that he is not looking to meet Rouhani during a UN event.
Read the full story here.
What is the General Assembly?
The General Assembly is the main deliberative and policymaking organ of the UN. It is the only UN body with equal representation, meaning each country has one vote.
The General Assembly convenes once a year for three months starting in mid-September and, if necessary, again from January.
During the general debate, world leaders take turns delivering speeches about the issues that matter to their governments.
Representatives from each of the UN member states get 15 minutes in principle to speak.
Some of the most memorable moments in the history of the general debate are Benjamin Netanyahu’s “red line” speech, former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi’s 96-minute speech during which he ripped up a copy of the UN charter, and Trump calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “rocket man“.
In remarks before signing the deal, Trump said Japan will open new markets to approximately $7 billion in American agricultural products and Japanese tariffs will now “be significantly lower or eliminated entirely for U.S. beef, pork, wheat, cheese, corn, wine and so much more.”
“This is a huge victory for America’s farmers, ranchers and growers and that’s very important to me,” Trump said.
For his part, Abe called the deal “a win-win” for both nations, saying the agreement brings “benefits to everyone in Japan as well as in the United States, namely consumers, producers and workers.”