April 23, 2024, 11:28 am

A H Khan

2018-09-23 17:01:34 BdST

World leaders at UN look for progress on N.Korea, brace for Trump

North Korea and Iran will dominate this week’s gathering of world leaders at the United
Nations, where President Donald Trump will be firmly in the spotlight as he continues to upend global diplomacy.

After warming up to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and ditching the Iran nuclear deal, the unpredictable Trump takes the podium on Tuesday to face foes and increasingly uneasy allies at the UN General Assembly.

On Wednesday, he will for the first time chair a Security Council meeting on non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction that will focus heavily on Iran — likely triggering a clash with other big powers.

“It will be the most watched Security Council meeting ever,” US Ambassador
Nikki Haley said of Trump’s first time wielding the gavel.

The diplomatic gathering will take stock of the thaw in relations between
North and South Korea, and ground-breaking US-North Korea moves to address
the threat from Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Last year, world leaders shuddered as Trump threatened to totally destroy
North Korea and belittled Kim as “Rocket Man on a suicide mission.”

An exchange of insults ensued, with Kim calling out the “mentally deranged
US dotard.”

– U-turn on North Korea –

Trump’s address to the assembly will be the “polar opposite of what we
heard last year,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, an expert on North Korea and Iran at
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The president will tout his face-to-face with Kim as a major diplomatic win
but “he should think twice if he plans to repeat his claim that North Korea
is no longer a nuclear threat,” she said.

Despite the Trump-Kim landmark summit in Singapore in June, there has been
little concrete progress on denuclearization.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong ho has been invited by US Secretary
of State Mike Pompeo for talks on the sidelines of the assembly meeting. Ri
is scheduled to deliver his address on September 29.

During key meetings, South Korean President Moon Jae-in will encourage
Trump to press on with the rapprochement, but the US president is likely to
get a different message from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has
taken a tough stance on maintaining sanctions pressure on Pyongyang.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will address the fall-out from the US
decision to abandon the nuclear deal when he takes the podium shortly after
Trump on Tuesday.

European countries along with Russia and China are still working to salvage
the accord and will use the council meeting chaired by Trump to defend what
they consider as a milestone in non-proliferation.

“The members of the Security Council are not going to take kindly to being
lectured by President Trump on the subject of Iran,” said DiMaggio.

“These very countries, which include our closest allies, are now facing US
sanctions as they scramble to save the agreement.”

– UN under fire –

The UN rendezvous takes place amid a sharp divide between the United
States, accused of turning its back on multilateralism, and countries that
view the global rules-based order as their best hope to tackle the world’s

Struggling with tighter budgets from US cuts, the United Nations has been
put on the defensive as its peace efforts in Syria, Libya and Yemen fall

“Multilateralism is under attack from many different directions precisely
when we need it most,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week.

About 130 heads of state and government are turning up for the six-day
marathon of speeches and meetings on tackling a long list of issues from
climate change to poverty.

Russia and China will be represented by their foreign ministers.

Among those making their debut on the world stage will be Ethiopia’s Prime
Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has signed a historic peace deal with Eritrea,
Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

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