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Biden will meet with UN Secretary General Guterres in NYC today ahead of the General Assembly address


President Joe Biden will meet with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday night ahead of his scheduled Tuesday statements before the UN General Assembly in New York City.

Biden will address the meeting in person tomorrow and then head back to Washington, where he will continue to interact virtually with fellow world leaders.

It will be a departure from the General Assembly’s last in-person meeting in 2019 – and also very different from last year’s fully virtual version.

But COVID concerns will still loom over the high-profile event after the White House expressed fears the General Assembly could be a “super spreader event.”

The world leaders await are daunting challenges, from an escalating climate crisis and severe COVID vaccine inequality to Afghanistan’s future under its new Taliban rulers and worsening conflict in Myanmar and the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

Secretary-General Guterres continues to reiterate that the world is at “a pivotal moment” and must shift to “a greener and safer world.”

To do that, leaders need to “give teeth” on multilateralism, starting with concerted action to reverse the global failure to address COVID-19 by 2020 and ensure that 70 percent of the world’s population is killed by the first half of 2022. is vaccinated.

Biden will fly to New York City on Monday afternoon, where he will meet with the UN Secretary General before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly the following day.

Biden, meanwhile, will face questions about his initial promises that the Trump administration’s erratic policy decisions are behind him.

On Tuesday, he will try to plead with allies that “America is back” and is willing to lead the way on global challenges such as climate change, human rights and the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden’s chief envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, offered a harmonious response to all diplomacy: “We believe our priorities are not just American priorities, they are global priorities,” she said Friday.

At a virtual COVID-19 summit he’s hosting on Wednesday, leaders will be urged to step up commitments to share vaccines, address oxygen shortages around the world and address other critical pandemic-related issues.

The president has also invited the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan, part of a Pacific alliance, to Washington and is expected to meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House.

But in recent months, Biden has been at odds with allies over a number of high-profile issues.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned heads of state that the world is currently at a 'crucial moment'

Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned heads of state that the world is currently at a ‘crucial moment’

Differences have been noted about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the pace of COVID-19 vaccine sharing and international travel restrictions, and how best to respond to China’s military and economic measures.

In recent days, there has been a fierce French reaction after the US and Britain announced they would help equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

But Biden and European allies are also out of sync on other issues, including how quickly rich countries should share their stockpiles of coronavirus vaccines with poorer countries.

Early on, Biden resisted calls to immediately donate 4 to 5 percent of supplies to developing countries.

In June, the White House instead announced it would buy 500 million doses to be distributed through a World Health Organization-backed vaccine-sharing initiative with low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Biden is expected to announce additional steps soon to help vaccinate the world.

Allies of the Group of Seven major industrial nations have shown varying levels of comfort with Biden’s calls to persuade fellow democratic leaders to form a more united front to compete economically with Beijing.

When the leaders met in England this year, they agreed to fight against China. But there was less consensus on how hostile a public position the group should take.

Canada, the United Kingdom and France largely endorsed Biden’s position, while Germany, Italy and the European Union were more hesitant.

Biden clashed with European leaders over his decision to meet an August 31 deadline to end the US war in Afghanistan, prompting US and Western allies to leave before all their citizens could be evacuated from Taliban rule.

There are already concerns about world leaders and diplomats not following NYC's vaccination protocols, forcing people to be vaccinated for indoor events - including at convention centers

There are already concerns about world leaders and diplomats not following NYC’s vaccination protocols, forcing people to be vaccinated for indoor events – including at convention centers

Britain and other allies, many of whom followed US troops to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, had urged Biden to keep the US military at the Kabul airport longer, but were eventually rejected. rejected by the president.

Government officials view this week’s appointments as a key moment for the president to outline his priorities and rally support to address multiple crises with greater coordination.

One of the most significant crises, the COVID-19 pandemic, will not only be a topic of discussion this year.

Entering the United States requires a vaccination or a recent COVID-19 test, but New York City has a vaccination requirement for convention centers, and it considers the General Assembly hall — which is technically not U.S. soil — as one of those.

Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said in a letter on Thursday that the UN relies only on an honor system. That means there will be no police in New York City monitoring people entering UN headquarters.

UN Ambassador Thomas on Friday expressed concern that the General Assembly could be a super spreader event.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday she is concerned that the General Assembly meeting could become a COVID super spreader event

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday she is concerned that the General Assembly meeting could become a COVID super spreader event

World leaders began descending on New York City for the annual meeting last week, and Thomas-Greenfield notes that they are not necessarily adhering to local vaccine requirements and other coronavirus-related restrictions.

Last year’s UNGA meeting, held at the height of the pandemic, forced world leaders to go virtual. This year, however, the meeting will be held in a hybrid form, with heads of state appearing in person or by video message.

Thomas-Greenfield said she sent a note urging diplomats and world leaders to submit videos to be played during the two-week event.

More than 100 presidents, prime ministers and other leaders are expected to deliver in-person speeches.

New York City currently has some of the most restrictive COVID-19 rules, after Mayor Bill de Blasio mandated earlier this summer that people must be vaccinated — and show proof of vaccination — in order to enjoy indoor activities like dining, concerts, movies and convention centers.

UNGA is being held inside the UN General Assembly, which qualified as a convention center, according to a Sept. 9 letter from Blasio’s Office for International Affairs.

New York City’s health commissioner informed General Assembly president-elect Abdulla Shahid that UNGA would be covered by a local law requiring proof of vaccination for indoor locations.

Already indicative of clashes is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who says he was not vaccinated but has antibodies from a COVID-19 infection last year. He announced that he will attend the UNGA in person while defying the vaccination requirement in New York City.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the demand “discriminatory” and said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the idea of ​​requiring a vaccination certificate to enter the General Assembly Hall.

Nebenzia claimed the rule violates the 1947 agreement between the US and the UN that establishes the international status of the world body.

After reversing the demand, Shahid returned on Thursday in a new letter: “I would like to point out to delegations that the honor system regarding vaccinations… continues to exist.”

Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday the honor system means: “By swiping a badge to enter the General Assembly Hall, delegates confirm that they have been fully vaccinated, that they have not tested positive for the disease in the past 10 days.” COVID-19. [and] have no symptoms.’

De Blasio announced that New York City will open a pop-up testing and vaccination site at UN headquarters where attendees can get free COVID-19 testing and the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

The 2021 UNGA meeting started last week and will conclude on Tuesday.


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