Top Chinese, Russian & Indian leaders skip UNGA


NEW YORK: Nearly 150 world leaders have landed in New York for the 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA), but statesmen of China, Russia, Ethiopia and India have decided to skip the event and instead will have representatives standing in for them.   

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also not attending the event due to the war, but was granted a rare exception to give a pre-recorded speech. This is the largest diplomatic gathering in 2022 as the world confronts a horrific reality war, humanitarian crisis, painful energy shocks, food shortages, climate change, and economic turmoil.

“The General Assembly is meeting at a time of great peril,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said last week. “Geostrategic divides are the widest they have been since at least the Cold War. They are paralyzing the global response to the dramatic challenges we face.”

The General Debate — the main event — kicks off today. It provides world leaders an opportunity to speak on their priorities and concerns. Following tradition, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be the first to go; the hosting U.S. leader would typically be second, although President Joe Biden— delayed by Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral—will instead deliver his speech on Wednesday. Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will also address the UNGA.

On the sidelines of the General Debate, expect a spate of private meetings and other sessions and summits, including discussions over global food security, the Iran nuclear deal, and the pandemic. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid plan to meet, as do Biden and new British Prime Minister Liz Truss. The Quad is also set to convene this week. 

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rages on, observers expect the war and its global ramifications to dominate talks.

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