The UN General Assembly: special event for some, others stay away

NEW YORK, Christina Horsten (dpa)- Some 200 representatives from member countries and international organizations are travelling to New York for the UN General Assembly. For many, the gathering is a routine and for others a special event, but certain key leaders will be missing.
Dozens of heads of state and government will be in New York over the coming week for the annual General Assembly of the United Nations, with many attending the September event as a matter of course each year.

For some, the gathering has real significance, but others will stand out through their absence. Here is a list of key figures at the event and those who will be elsewhere.
DONALD TRUMP: All eyes are on the US president. The UN was a regular target of his election campaign last year, with his proposals to cut the essential US contribution to the world body's budget hitting a sensitive spot. But he will be there, will be staying longer than his predecessor did, and he even intends to chair a meeting on reforming the UN.
Whether this marks the return of the United States to multilateralist diplomacy so fervently wished for by many diplomats remains to be seen.
ANTONIO GUTERRES: The former Portuguese prime minister has held the key post of UN secretary-general only since the beginning of the year and this is his first General Assembly. Guterres has thus far received widespread praise for his work. In contrast to his predecessors, he aims to use the gathering to look inwards at the UN itself. Slimming down UN bureaucracy and reforming the body to make it more flexible are his most important goals.
He also intends to address the thorny issue of sexual assault perpetrated by UN troops while on peacekeeping missions.
EMMANUEL MACRON: This is also the first General Assembly for French President Emmanuel Macron. He is scheduled to speak shortly after Trump on the opening day. A central theme for Macron is climate change, which he aims to place on the agenda with a top-level meeting.
Whether Trump will cooperate remains an open question after the US leader withdrew his country from the Paris Climate Accord.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Turkey's president is under fire from opponents and more than few world leaders for his autocratic tendencies - from curbing freedom of speech to cracking down on political dissent.
But his country is a powerful player in the Middle East while the European Union depends on him to help stem the flow of migrants into continent. Erdogan has said he wants to use the UN platform to focus on the plight of Rohingyas in Myanmar.
SIGMAR GABRIEL: The German foreign minister is attending his first General Assembly, and it could well be his last. Gabriel is down to speak in New York on Thursday and on Sunday Germany goes to the polls in federal elections. As a result, Gabriel's stay in New York will be cut to just two days.
Before and after his address, the Social Democrat politician will hold a number of meetings and attend several receptions.
THE MISSING: Among the prominent leaders absent from the schedule are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who always sends her foreign minister, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been a relatively rare sight in New York during his years in power.
North Korea, Syria and Venezuela - all beset by crisis in one way or another - will be sending lower-ranking representatives.
The cancellation at short notice by Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi in the middle of a crisis over violence directed at her country's Muslim minority, the Rohingya, has raised eyebrows.

Saturday, September 16th 2017
Christina Horsten

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