United Nations Day 2: Pres. Obama to talk ISIS, meet with Cuban Pres. Raul Castro
NEW YORK — Will there be more icy toasts? More stiff and uncomfortable handshakes? More impassioned speeches?
The 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York devoted its first day Monday largely to heads of state giving speeches that focused on the war in Syria and one of its tragic results, the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The speeches leaders gave were rich in passion and substance, despite all the attention by the end of the day on frosty interactions between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Expect more discussion and globally influential hobnobbing Tuesday. Here are a few highlights to get you started.
• Obama will chair a summit focused on how to counter the ISIS terror group and reduce extremism worldwide. Obama convened a similar session last year about how to reduce the number of foreign fighters who were joining ISIS. The flow of people from Europe, Africa, the United States and elsewhere continued unabated.
This year will be different, officials say, because there will be a concentration on “life stages” of a terrorist, homing in on the ideologies that can foster extremism at a young age. Obama wants to check in with partner nations to see how they have implemented changes decided on last year and push them to do more.
• Later Tuesday morning, Obama is expected to meet on the sidelines with Cuban President Raul Castro. It’s their second meeting since the U.S. and Cuba’s renewed diplomatic ties. The pair are expected to brainstorm economic plans including an agreement to allow commercial flights to travel between the countries.
• On a day when the Taliban took over the Afghan city of Kunduz — a major loss to the Afghan government — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will meet with Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. While the leaders talk, back in Afghanistan the nation’s military has been fighting to retake the city.
Just as the United Nations began business at 9 a.m., CNN learned from the Kunduz police that 83 Taliban insurgents had been killed in an operation. The violence in Kunduz isn’t isolated. Within the past 48 hours, hundreds of Islamic militants — some who are foreign fighters — organized attacks including a bombing at a sport match in Paktika. Ten people were killed and several more injured.
• As Europe struggles with hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees flooding in from war-torn countries including Syria, Hungary has faced fierce criticism for treating them harshly. The country has erected a fence to try to keep refugees out.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blasted that method, saying in his opening address Monday that the world is far too global and interconnected for countries to attempt to isolate themselves. “It’s the 21st century,” he said. On Tuesday, Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Szijjarto will hold a press conference at the U.N.
• Speakers at the U.N. on Tuesday include leaders from Ukraine, Italy, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. It will be interesting to hear what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has to say about the widespread unrest in his country. Will be address Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, which was widely condemned by the international community? On Monday, Putin blamed violence in Ukraine on a “military coup.”