United Nations General Assembly live updates: World awaits President Trump’s first assembly

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figcaption,#liveblog-description,#top-button-container,#bottom-button-container,#lb-topper-meta{padding-left:20px;padding-right:20px}.lb-widget.lb-widget-image,.lb-widget.lb-widget-video{padding-left:0;padding-right:0}.lb-widget.lb-widget-image figure.lb-size-small{padding-left:10px;padding-right:20px}.lb-widget.lb-widget-image figure.lb-size-small figcaption{padding-left:0;padding-right:0}.lb-hide-mobile{display:none}.lb-hide-desktop{display:inherit}article.lb-card{padding:30px 0 0 0}.lb-card-contents{width:100%;float:none}header.lb-card-header{padding-right:20px;padding-left:20px;padding-bottom:0}} Sept. 18, 2017, 4:26 p.m.

North Korea, Iran and the mass flight of minority Muslims from Myanmar are a few of the bigger challenges that await more than 100 heads of state and government as the annual United Nations General Assembly gears up in New York.

What’s happening:

  • President Trump: The spotlight will be on Trump as he makes his at the General Assembly. He is expected to address the assembly Tuesday.
  • U.N. reform: The United States sponsored an event Monday on reforming the 193-member world body. Trump has been critical of the U.N. and has promised to cut the U.S. contribution to its budget.
  • Hurricane Irma: Devastation caused by the storm was on the agenda Monday.
  • Climate change: California Gov. Jerry Brown is that states, cities and businesses can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after Trump announced that the U.S. will pull out of an agreement to fight global warming.
  • Terrorism: Several events are on the agenda, including a meeting Monday hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron with leaders of five African nations — Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad — seeking to assemble a 5,000-strong force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region.
  • Cyber-terrorism: A side event co-hosted by Britain, France and Italy on “Preventing Terrorist Use of the Internet” will be attended by senior representatives of major social media companies on Wednesday.
  • Peacekeeping: The Security Council is holding a high-level meeting Wednesday on U.N. peacekeeping operations, which cost nearly $8 billion a year.

All updates Climate Change Iran Peacekeeping President Trump President Trump Sept. 18, 2017, 4:23 p.m. New York

Protest fatigue keeps anti-Trump protests subdued

Barbara DemickAnti-Trump protest in New York as the U.N. General Assembly convenes. (Barbara Demick/Los Angeles Times)

Rise. Resist. Protest and persist.

That’s at least what the signs implored at a rush-hour demonstration Monday evening at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. But fewer New Yorkers are heeding the call to action. At what was supposed to be the first big protest against Donald Trump’s appearance in the city, fewer than 1,000 protesters attended.

“It’s kind of like battle fatigue. People are worn out,’’ said Judy Cuttler, an Iowa-born artist who said she first came to New York in 1969 to protest the Vietnam War.  With Trump back in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, she had been expecting big protests against his presence. “I couldn’t find any so I came here,’’ said Cuttler, who had joined the modest crowd in a march against white supremacy.

Demonstration organizers said, however, they expect crowds to pick up later in the week with events planned almost every day of the U.N. gathering. Richard Rice Alan, a professional entertainer who was marching in a top hat and suit plastered with slogans comparing Trump to Hitler, said people were not so much worn out as regrouping.

“I myself had to pull back for a while. I had to get my rage under control,’’ he said.

Even a pro-Trump demonstrator, who tried to heckle the protesters, seemed disappointed by the lackluster showing.  He darted between the demonstrators, planting himself directly in their path — waving his Trump 2020 flag so close in people’s faces that he almost hit a few.

Nobody bothered to pick a fight.

IranPresident Trump Sept. 18, 2017, 3:58 p.m. Washington

White House says Trump and Netanyahu agree on need to counter Iran’s ‘malign influence’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces reporters before a meeting with President Trump. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump, meeting in New York on Monday, discussed the two leaders’ shared aim of “countering Iran’s malign influence in the region,” the White House said.

Trump and Netanyahu have previously bonded over mistrust toward Iran. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump denounced the landmark 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers as a terrible deal. Netanyahu had lobbied vehemently against the agreement, irritating the then-Obama administration by using a speech to both houses of Congress to make his case.

But Trump has softened his stance somewhat since taking office. Over the summer, his administration grudgingly declared that Tehran was in technical compliance with the accord, but that determination must be made every three months and is next due in mid-October.

Netanyahu took an upbeat tone in a post-meeting tweet. “Was great meeting with you today,” he told Trump on Twitter. “Together we are bringing the US-Israel alliance to even greater heights.”

The White House said the two sides “discussed their continued cooperation across a range of issues and stressed their goals of countering Iran’s malign influence in the region and resolving the Syria crisis in a manner consistent with American and Israeli security interests.”

Without giving details, the statement said the two “also discussed their continuing efforts to achieve an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, the optimism in the region about peace, and expanding economic opportunities to improve conditions for peace.”

Those hopes for a regional buy-in for the peace process are in line with the U.S. position when Trump traveled to Israel in May and met with Netanyahu, but Israel’s Arab neighbors are very unlikely to sign on to a renewed peace effort that does not include concrete steps such as a halt to Jewish settlement-building.  

Little pressure toward that end appears forthcoming from Washington. The White House statement said the president had promised Netanyahu to shield Israel against “unfair treatment” at the United Nations, which has repeatedly denounced settlement expansion.

As president-elect, Trump had expressed outrage in December when the outgoing Obama administration declined to exercise its veto power to block a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a halt to Israel’s settlement activity on Palestinian lands.

Later in the week, Trump is to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The two had a less-than-cordial encounter during Trump’s visit to the region in May.

IranPresident Trump Sept. 18, 2017, 3:11 p.m. Jerusalem

Netanyahu would like to pull back the Iran nuclear agreement. But will he get what he wants?

Noga TarnopolskyPresident Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

With his eye on domestic politics, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to New York this week hoping to return home with a promise that the U.S. president will attempt to “modify” the 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program, Israeli sources said.

Netanyahu was also hoping to avoid the subject of peace talks with the Palestinians.

But the Israeli and American leaders seemed to come to their meeting Monday in New York, their third encounter this year, with different agendas.

Trump has until Oct. 15 to notify Congress whether Iran is living up to its commitments under the deal, which was spearheaded by President Obama in an attempt to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu is an implacable opponent of the agreement, and Trump is certainly no proponent — as a presidential candidate, he termed it “a terrible deal.”

But even if the United States were to pull out of the pact, any modification would require an agreement from the other five signatories, which include China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Trump on Monday seemed eager to change the subject.

“We are going to discuss peace between Israel and the Palestinians; it will be a fantastic achievement,” Trump said during a brief media event before meeting privately with Netanyahu for an hour.

“We are giving it [an] absolute go — there is a good chance it could happen. Most people would say there is no chance whatsoever, but I think that with the ability of Bibi and the other side — I really think we have a chance,” Trump said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

In a manner of a response to the president, the prime minister said, “Peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and peace between Israel and the Arab world, go together.”

It is a formulation Netanyahu uses often, implying there can be no peace negotiations with the Palestinians until Israel is recognized by the Arab world as a whole.

Despite this position, Netanyahu has by and large ignored the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia that would normalize ties between Arab states and Israel in exchange for a total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, which Israel has ruled since 1967.

reported from New York that “Netanyahu and his staff have insisted in recent days that his meeting with Trump would focus on Iran, and he seemed a bit surprised by the president’s remarks.”

Israeli political analyst Ron Ben-Yishai suggested that Netanyahu’s demand was no more than “Israeli spin.”

“In the current state of affairs, there’s absolutely no chance the nuclear agreement with Iran would be cancelled, and there’s no chance the United States would walk away from the agreement,” he . “There’s a simple reason for that: None of the countries and international organizations that signed the agreement have an interest in violating it.”

Trump said he expected to have a response regarding Iran “very soon.”


Sept. 18, 2017, 4:26 p.m.

More than 70 top European officials urge the U.S. to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal

President Trump appears during a “Made in America” product showcase at the White House in July. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Ahead of President Trump’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly this week, more than 70 top European officials signed a statement urging the United States to re-certify that Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The agreement, reached between Iran and six world powers, allows Iran to enrich uranium for use in energy production, but seeks to limit its ability to develop nuclear weapons. In exchange for allowing international inspections, Iran saw some sanctions lifted.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the deal, said last month that Iran was continuing to satisfy its obligations.

But the Trump administration, which has twice re-certified the deal, has suggested that it may not do so again next month. In July, the United States imposed some new sanctions on Iran for launching a missile into space, a move that Trump said violated the “spirit” of the agreement.

The European statement said that while it wants to address U.S. concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it would be “unwarranted” for it not certify that Iran is in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

The statement urged Trump and the U.S. Congress to “accept that the fastest path to an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to undermine this agreement.” It said that not re-certifying Iran would damage the United States’ credibility with Europe. 

“Unilateral U.S. action that jeopardized the [nuclear agreement] would be a grave mistake,” the statement said. “It would make it harder to keep Iran and its region non-nuclear and more difficult for the United States and her allies to tackle unacceptable Iranian behavior.”

The signatories — who included former British Defense Secretary George Robertson, former NATO Secretary-General Wolfgang Ischinger and a wide range of other political, diplomatic and military figures — warned that not re-certifying Iran would give hard-liners more ammunition for their campaign to reduce engagement with the West.

The statement also urged the other parties to the agreement — Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany — to protect the deal in the event the United States backs out and to make clear in public and private that the United States would hurt its international standing if it were to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.

During a public briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Monday afternoon, Trump was asked if he planned to keep the United States in the nuclear deal.

“You’ll see very soon,” he said. “You’ll be seeing very soon.” 



Iran Sept. 18, 2017, 12:39 p.m.

United Nations says detained Americans in Iran are being held illegally, demands their immediate release

Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American who was reportedly sentenced in Iran on charges of spying for the United States, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge on a visit to California. (Inform)

The day after Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani arrived in New York to join world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, the U.N. demanded the release of an Iranian American businessman and his father, who are being .

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention–an independent body of five members appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council– found Monday that 45-year-old Siamak Namazi and his 81-year-old father, Baquer Namazi, are being held illegally in Iran and urged the government to immediately release them. 

“The deprivation of liberty of Mr. Siamak Namazi and Mr. Mohammed Baquer Namazi… is arbitrary,” the Working Group concluded in its report. “The appropriate remedy would be to release [them] immediately and accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations…” 

The Namazis, who hold both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, have been imprisoned in Iran for nearly two years. They were convicted of espionage in a secret trial in 2016 and were each in Tehran’s Evin Prison. 

The U.N. group described the practice of Iran arresting dual Iranian American citizens as an “emerging pattern.”  

Babak Namazi, the brother of Siamak and son of Baquer, has been working for their release. He said Monday’s decision was an important step forward. 

“I am incredibly gratified that the United Nations has found the detention of my father and brother illegal,” Babak Namazi said in a statement. 

“This shows unequivocally what we have known all along: that they have done nothing wrong.  I urge the government of Iran to release them immediately on humanitarian grounds.”

Climate Change Sept. 18, 2017, 12:07 p.m. New York

California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the passage of a pair of climate change measures at a news conference in Sacramento in this July 17 file photo. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday touted steps the state has taken toward a healthier climate, but warned that powerful forces he called “climate deniers” are resisting technologies and policies designed to improve conditions.

“I like all the optimism around here, but I don’t want to minimize the steep hill that we have to climb,” Brown said at the start of a gathering of international leaders called Climate Week NYC. “Decarbonizing the economy when the economy depends so totally on carbon is not child’s play. It’s quite daunting.”

Hosted by the Climate Group, an international nonprofit organization that works with business and government to promote clean technologies and policies, the event was scheduled to bring together high-profile governors, Fortune 500 companies and multinational businesses for a week to share their strategies and leadership in tackling climate change.

IranPresident Trump Sept. 18, 2017, 12:25 p.m.

What is Iran looking for at this week’s U.N. General Assembly meeting?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (The office of the Iranian Presidency / Associated Press)

With President Trump’s disdain for the 2015 agreement on limiting Iran’s nuclear program threatening the pact’s survival, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is likely to focus much of his time at the U.N. General Assembly this week with one main goal in mind: defending the controversial agreement.

During his highly anticipated speech to the General Assembly on Wednesday–along with several other planned meetings–Rouhani will likely .

Rouhani, who began his second term as president in May, was largely responsible for spearheading negotiations in 2015 with the United States and other world powers that led Iran to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

Trump has frequently called the 2015 nuclear deal  “the worst deal ever,” and has threatened to rip it up.

Although Trump’s administration has certified twice that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement, his administration has sent strong signals in recent weeks that it does not plan on certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal in October. 

With tensions between the United States and Iran increasing over this, Rouhani is likely to spend much of his time defending the deal to other world leaders and attempting to show that Iran is abiding by it.

Already Rouhani has set off on this course. In an interview with CNN on Monday, Rouhani warned that “exiting such an agreement would carry a high cost for the United States of America.” He also said he does not believe that “Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that will be useless for them.”

Rouhani told reporters Sunday as he arrived in New York  that “the goal of this visit is to…deliver Iran’s voice to the world,”  adding later that his strategy is “to have inclusive interaction with the world…” 

This is Rouhani’s fifth U.N. General Assembly meeting.  

Peacekeeping Sept. 18, 2017, 12:06 p.m. reporting from Moscow

Putin to skip this year’s meeting, but Russia’s concerns will top the agenda

Sabra AyresIn Putin’s absence at the U.N., Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will speak Thursday. (Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t be attending this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting because of a scheduling conflict. Instead, he’s overseeing a massive joint with neighboring Belarus that has the West, particularly NATO countries, nervous with speculation about so many Russian soldiers along their borders.

In Putin’s absence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will speak Thursday. Among the topics Russia will likely want to address are North Korea, Ukraine, Syria and what Moscow sees as a growing sentiment of  Russophobia in the West — which the Kremlin see as led by the United States.

Lavrov met this week with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a lead-up to the annual U.N. meeting. They discussed the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, according to Russian news reports.

Russian Sen. Konstantin Kosachev said Monday that the two diplomats “should coordinate their steps.” Kosachev chairs the International Affairs Committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament.

It will likely prove difficult to coordinate the two countries’ opposing sides on many issues, especially on the question of Ukraine. Russia has proposed the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, where Kremlin-backed separatist fighters have been engaged in a three-year military conflict with Ukrainian forces.

On Monday, the Russian U.N. ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, said the U.S. and Ukraine had formally told Russia they are not prepared to work with the Russian proposal as is, according to Russian news agencies. Washington and Kiev support the idea of U.N. peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, which Putin proposed last week, but want the peacekeeping forces to also patrol the border with Russia, which Kiev lost control of to separatist fighters in 2014.   

When it comes to proposals on reforming the U.N., Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on the sidelines of the meeting that Moscow is looking for a dialogue on how to go about those reforms, according to th the Russian news agency TASS. Earlier, he indicated that Russia would not sign a U.S.-led reform initiative, which has been signed by 128 other countries. The reform proposal calls for deep cuts and staffing of the U.N. and streamlining the organization’s structure.

Sept. 18, 2017, 12:06 p.m. reporting from New York

Workers at Port Sudan unload U.S. aid destined for South Sudan from the World Food Program in March. (Ashraf Shazly / AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been two years since the adopted 17 goals aimed at fighting poverty and inequality, protecting the environment and fostering peace.

The target year for achieving those goals is 2030, but that’s little time, given the scope of the agenda, and experts note formidable obstacles stand in the way of achieving these “sustainable development goals,” or SDGs.

“We had the SDG agreements in 2015. Everybody felt very good,” said Homi Kharas, co-director in the global economy and development program at the .

But while there was progress in 2016 and 2017, there also was some regression, Kharas said. “The pace is not fast enough to achieve the SDGs. I feel that we are coasting somewhat,” he said.

Sept. 18, 2017, 12:06 p.m. New York

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster, right, brief reporters in Washington on Sept. 15, 2017, about U.S. participation in the upcoming sessio (AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump takes to the world’s largest stage this week. And many onstage are worried.

Trump will deliver his first address Tuesday to the full , an annual meeting that draws diplomats and leaders from 193 countries.

Neither Russian President nor Chinese President Xi Jinping are coming this year. That gives even more running room to a celebrity president who has shaken global institutions with his “America first” policy and whom diplomats politely describe as unpredictable.

“People are on tenterhooks,” said Stewart Patrick, an expert on global institutions and governance at the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations. “This is the most nationally minded president we’ve had in a long time … walking into the lion’s den.”

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