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PM arrives in New York to address UN General Assembly

PM arrives in New York to address UN General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif arrives in New York on Monday to lead Pakistan’s delegation to the 68th session of UN General Assembly which is set to discuss key international issues, including the deadly conflict in Syria. The situation in Afghanistan, Egypt, Mali and the Central African Republic will also be high on the Assembly’s 175-item agenda, UN officials said, adding that the 193-member body will be assessing new approaches being planned in peacekeeping, diplomacy and support for countries in transition.

The Middle East diplomatic Quartet “comprised of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States” will also meet for the first time in more than a year to support the resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The theme of the annual session of the General Assembly is: “Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage”.

The year 2015 is the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight anti-poverty targets agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, setting specific goals on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction and a global partnership for development.

More than 130 heads of state/government will participate in the high-level debate, which begins on Tuesday and last till Oct 1.

A huge security cordon has been thrown around the UN complex on the banks of East River as world leaders prepared to descend on New York. Checks points have been set up in various parts of the city.

The high point of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif week-long visit will be an address to General Assembly on September 27, his first on the world stage.

Nawaz Sharif, whose PML-N party swept the May elections, is expected to outline his vision for Pakistan and some of his foreign and domestic policies.

He will also dilate on the efforts of the present government to curb the menace of terrorism besides its endeavors to bring peace and stability to the region.

In addition, the prime minister will participate in a number of other high-level events, including meetings on Millennium Development Goals (MGDs), sustainable development and nuclear disarmament.

He will also meet a number of heads of state/government, including leaders of China, Iran and Japan, on the sidelines of the General Assembly, and discuss various bilateral and regional issues. The prime Minister is also expected to meet his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. Final touches to the Prime Minister’s programme are being given.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, arrived in New York on Saturday evening to prepare for Sharif’s upcoming talks with world leaders.

Besides UN-related engagements, the Prime Minister will also address members of the Pakistani community and American businessmen.

Diplomats here are also keeping an eye on a possible first handshake between United states and Iranian presidents since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and President Barack Obama have sent signals in the lead-up to next week’s meeting of the world body that they are open to taking at least small steps toward opening a diplomatic relationship.