U.N. set to tackle top crises

Lead­ers to fo­cus on North Korea, Rohingyas; Trump to make de­but

The Dallas Morning News - - World - Edith M. Led­erer, The Associated Press

UNITED NA­TIONS — Fac­ing an es­ca­lat­ing nu­clear threat from North Korea and the mass flight of mi­nor­ity Mus­lims from Myanmar, world lead­ers gather at the United Na­tions start­ing Mon­day to tackle these and other tough chal­lenges — from the spread of ter­ror­ism to a warm­ing planet.

The spotlight will be on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and France’s new leader, Em­manuel Macron, who will each be mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance at the Gen­eral Assem­bly. They will be joined by more than 100 heads of state and gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing Zim­babwe’s Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe, one of Africa’s long­est-serv­ing lead­ers, who is said to be bring­ing a 70-mem­ber en­tourage.

While Trump’s speeches and meet­ings will be closely fol­lowed, it will be North Korea, which Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res calls “the most dan­ger­ous cri­sis that we face to­day,” that will be most care­fully watched. No of­fi­cial event ad­dress­ing Py­ongyang’s re­lent­less cam­paign to de­velop nu­clear weapons ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the United States is on the U.N. agenda, but it is ex­pected to be the No. 1 is­sue for most lead­ers.

Not far be­hind will be the plight of Myanmar’s Ro­hingya Mus­lims, vic­tims of what Guter­res calls a cam­paign of eth­nic cleans­ing that has driven nearly 400,000 to flee to Bangladesh in the past three weeks. The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, in its first state­ment on Myanmar in nine years, con­demned the vi­o­lence and called for im­me­di­ate steps to end it. Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son is host­ing a closed meet­ing on the cri­sis Mon­day, and the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion’s con­tact group on the Rohingyas is sched­uled to meet Tues­day.

Guter­res said lead­ers would also fo­cus on a third ma­jor threat — cli­mate change. The num­ber of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters has nearly quadru­pled, and he pointed to un­prece­dented weather events in re­cent weeks from Texas, Florida and the Caribbean to Bangladesh, In­dia, Nepal and Sierra Leone.

While Trump has an­nounced that the United States will pull out of the 2015 Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment, Macron will be host­ing a meet­ing Tues­day to spur its im­ple­men­ta­tion. And a late ad­di­tion to the hun­dreds of of­fi­cial meet­ings and side events dur­ing the min­is­te­rial week is a high-level ses­sion Mon­day on the dev­as­ta­tion caused by Hur­ri­cane Irma.

Trump has been crit­i­cal of the United Na­tions and has promised to cut the U.S. con­tri­bu­tion to its bud­get, which is the largest. So some diplo­mats were sur­prised that the United States would spon­sor an event Mon­day on re­form­ing the 193-mem­ber world body.

Trump and Guter­res will speak, and the United States has asked all coun­tries to sign a dec­la­ra­tion on U.N. re­forms. Over 100 have added their names, but Rus­sia’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Vass­ily Neben­zia said Fri­day that “we are not sure we will sign this dec­la­ra­tion.”

Gen­eral Assem­bly Pres­i­dent Miroslav La­j­cak re­minded mem­ber states that even rep­re­sen­ta­tives of coun­tries “with pro­found dis­agree­ments on fun­da­men­tal is­sues will sit side by side.”

“As long as we can use these meet­ing rooms to talk and reach com­pro­mises in good will, then we all have the col­lec­tive op­por­tu­nity to use the U.N. to make the world a bet­ter, and more peace­ful, place,” La­j­cak said.


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