Sunday 23 October 2016

PM Modi to Address UN General Assembly on Sep 27

Yoshita Singh/United Nations
File - PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, giving his first global speech to an audience of nearly 200 world leaders and foreign ministers at the annual gathering of the world body's policymaking organ.

According to a first provisional list of speakers released here, India's "Head of Government" is scheduled to address the General Debate of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly on the morning of September 27.

The UN General Debate, where presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and foreign ministers address the General Assembly, is scheduled from September 24 to October 1.

The week of the General Debate is traditionally considered the busiest week of the year for international diplomacy as heads of states and governments along with their armies of diplomats, civil society members and business heads descend on the UN headquarters and discuss pressing global issues.

As is customary, the leader of Brazil will be the first speaker to address the General Debate followed by Obama.

The leaders of Bangladesh, China and Russia will address the world body the same day as Modi. Pakistan is scheduled to speak at the General Assembly on September 25.

Apart from addressing the General Assembly, Modi is expected to travel to Washington for his first meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Modi's first foreign visit, after becoming India's Prime Minister in May, was to Bhutan. He then travelled to Brazil last month for a meeting with BRICS leaders and will head to Nepal tomorrow on a two-day visit.

All eyes however are on Modi's visit to the US next month where he will not only address world leaders, hold possible bilateral meetings at the UN and meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon but would also meet Obama for the Summit meeting.

Ban's spokesperson had said in May that the UN chief would "very much hope" that Modi would attend the General Assembly and especially attend the Climate Change summit as India has a big role to play on this issue.

Obama was among the first world leaders to congratulate Modi when he led his party to a resounding victory in the Indian national elections and invited him to the White House, an invitation coming from the highest level after the US had denied him a visa in 2005 following the 2002 Gujarat riots that happened in his wake as Chief Minister of the state.

Several high-level meetings are also scheduled on the sidelines of the UN Debate when world leaders take advantage of being in one city at the same time and hold discussions with their counterparts from across the world.

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