Wednesday, October 16, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Mugabe in New York for UN summit
22/09/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe this week joins 130 other heads of state and government in New York for the 68th annual United Nations General Assembly. Mugabe, accompanied by the First Lady, arrived at JF Kennedy International Airport on Saturday and will address the General Assembly on Thursday.

With the majestic Assembly hall under renovation, delegations from 193 United Nations member states will not meet under the dome with its soaring ceilings, marble rostrums and aura of history but rather in what looks like an IKEA-type building with low ceilings, functional furniture, and a faux marble rostrum.

The ongoing Syrian crisis and the toxic haze of recent chemical weapons use, clouds the diplomatic horizon at the global gathering as delegates confront issues of war, peace and widening humanitarian disasters.

But it is the General Debate, the key policy speeches over the next two weeks where the headlines are generated, that is the highlight of the session. While delegates speak with broad brush themes concerning development, disarmament, poverty and peacekeeping, the focus will remain on Syria’s ongoing civil conflict.

Some 131 heads of state and government will attend the session as shall 60 foreign ministers. Many of the heavy-hitter countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, Russia, and South Korea will be represented by their respective foreign ministers.

The 68th session, held under the theme “Millennium Development Goals and Other Internationally Agreed Development Goals for Persons With Disabilities” will wade through 174 assembly agenda items from hot button political issues, to vital peacekeeping operations, and budgetary items to a gaggle of the usual perfunctory anti-Israel resolutions, and slap on the wrist items ranging from the question of the Falkland Islands to the continuing American economic embargo on Cuba.

Mugabe will have a slight spring in his step after his emphatic election win on July 31, but will rail at old foes Britain and the United States for claiming his victory was “flawed” even as the African Union and SADC passed the elections as free and credible.

The United States maintains a travel ban on Mugabe, but he can still attend United Nations events.

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