The UN’s massive annual summit yesterday returned in person to a world divided by multiple crises starting with Ukraine.
After two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and video addresses, the UN General Assembly asked leaders to come in person if they wish to speak — with a sole exception made for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
However, the death of Queen Elizabeth II disrupted the summit anew. US President Joe Biden, by tradition the second speaker on the first day, would instead speak today.
The first day was to feature French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the leaders of the two largest economies of the EU, which has mobilized to impose tough sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This year, Ukraine will be very high on the agenda. It will be unavoidable,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told reporters in New York.
“There are many other problems, we know, but the war in Ukraine has been sending shock waves around the world,” he said.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock yesterday vowed to support countries hardest hit by the fallout from the war as she headed to the General Assembly.
“The brutality of Russia’s war of aggression and its threat to the peace order in Europe have not blinded us to the fact that its dramatic effects are also clearly being felt in many other regions of the world,” Baerbock said.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been urging leaders not to forget other priorities, such as education, the topic of a special summit on Monday.
“Education is in a deep crisis. Instead of being the great enabler, education is fast becoming the great divide,” Guterres told the summit.
He warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on learning, with poor students lacking technology at a particular disadvantage, and conflicts further disrupting schools.
Other leaders scheduled to speak yesterday included Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has staked out ground as a broker between Russia and Ukraine, including through a deal to ship out badly needed grain to the world.
In the type of last-minute diplomacy common at previous UN sessions, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken convened a first meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia since a flare-up in fighting.
“Strong, sustainable diplomatic engagement is the best path for everyone,” Blinken told them.
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov was visiting, despite a hostile reaction from the US.
He met on Monday with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, who urged Russia to allow a security zone outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, whose occupation by Moscow has raised mounting concerns.
Also high on the agenda for the UN week would be Tehran, with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi joining the General Assembly for the first time and expected to meet yesterday with French President Emmanuel Macron.
CALL FOR PEACE: Czech President Petr Pavel raised concerns about China’s military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait and its ‘unfriendly action’ in the South China Sea The leaders of three diplomatic allies — Guatemala, Paraguay and Palau — on Tuesday voiced support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN on the first day of the UN General Debate in New York. In his address during the 78th UN General Assembly, Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr urged the UN and all parties involved in cross-strait issues to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution. “The well-being and prosperity of nations and their economies are intrinsically linked to global peace and stability,” he said. He also thanked partner nations such as Taiwan, Australia, Japan and the US for providing assistance
CROSS-STRAIT CONCERNS: At the same US Congress hearing, Mira Resnick said a US government shutdown could affect weapons sales and licenses to allies such as Taiwan A Chinese blockade of Taiwan would be a “monster risk” for Beijing and likely to fail, while a military invasion would be extremely difficult, senior Pentagon officials told the US Congress on Tuesday. Growing worries of a conflict come as China has ramped up military pressure on Taiwan, holding large-scale war games simulating a blockade on the nation, while conducting near-daily warplane incursions and sending Chinese vessels around its waters. US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said a blockade would be “a monster risk for the PRC [People’s Republic of China].” “It would likely not succeed, and it
AMPHIBIOUS EXERCISES: The defense ministry said that it had detected 24 Chinese PLA Air Force planes entering Taiwan’s air defense zone over the previous 24 hours Chinese movements around Taiwan were “abnormal,” Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday, flagging recent amphibious exercises in addition to drills Taipei has observed in China’s Fujian Province. Taiwan has reported a rise in Chinese military activity over the past week as dozens of fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships, have operated around the nation. “Our initial analysis is that they are doing joint drills in September, including land, sea, air and amphibious,” Chiu told reporters at the legislature in Taipei. The “recent enemy situation is quite abnormal,” he said. The comments followed a statement from the
IN MOURNING: Tsai visited the site and spoke with family members of those killed, while all the major presidential candidates said they would temporarily halt campaigning A fire and subsequent explosions at a golf ball factory at Pingtung Technology Industrial Park (屏東科技產業園區) killed at least seven people, including four firefighters, and injured 98, while three were still missing, authorities said yesterday. The blaze at Launch Technologies Co’s (明揚國際) plant on Jingjian Road raged for more than 12 hours after it started at about 5pm on Friday, officials said. The Pingtung County Fire Bureau early yesterday used large excavators to search for missing people, while family members waited at the scene. Pingtung County Fire Bureau Director Hsu Mei-hsueh (許美雪) said the bureau received a call about the fire at 5:31pm