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United Nations General Assembly meeting Highlights: Brazil’s health minister tests positive for Covid-19 in New York

UN general assembly meeting Highlights: Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga had also met British prime minister Boris Johnson at the UN before testing positive.

Brazil’s health minister Marcelo Queiroga. (Twitter/mqueiroga2)

UN general assembly meeting Highlights: Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tested positive for Covid-19 hours after accompanying President Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, news agency Reuters reported. He had also met British prime minister Boris Johnson at the UN before testing positive.

Queiroga will remain in New York in quarantine, the government’s communications office said in a statement. “The minister is doing well,” the statement said. It added that the rest of the delegation tested negative for the virus.

Meanwhile, France Wednesday flatly denied a report published in Britain’s Daily Telegraph saying President Emmanuel Macron was willing to give up France’s permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in exchange for the formation of a European Union army.

On the first day of the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will no longer fund coal-fired power plants abroad, surprising the world on climate for the second straight year at the UN General Assembly. That came hours after US President Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid to poorer nations to $11.4 billion by 2024 so those countries could switch to cleaner energy and cope with global warming’s worsening impacts.

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United Nations general assembly meeting Highlights: China will no longer fund coal-fired power plants abroad; US President Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid to poorer nations to USD 11.4 billion by 2024. Follow latest developments here.

21:18 (IST)22 Sep 2021
Day 2 of UNGA: Full list of speakers

Here's the full list of speakers on Day 2

-Zeljko Komšic, Chairman of the Presidency, Bosnia and Herzegovina

-King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (pre-recorded)

-Andry Nirina Rajoelina, President, Republic of Madagascar

-Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President, Republic of Ghana

-Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President, Republic of Sri Lanka

-King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (pre-reccorded)

-Alejandro Giammattei Falla, President, Republic of Guatemala

-David Kabua, President, Republic of the Marshall Islands (pre-recorded)

-Maia Sandu, President, Republic of Moldova

-Luis Lacalle Pou, President, Eastern Republic of Uruguay

-Kersti Kaljulaid, President, Republic of Estonia

-Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President, Republic of Suriname

-Julius Maada Bio, President, Republic of Sierra Leone 

21:14 (IST)22 Sep 2021
LIVE: Day 2 of UNGA

Watch LIVE as day 2 of the UNGA General Debate gets underway.

15:55 (IST)22 Sep 2021
UNGA: Brazil's health minister tests positive for Covid-19

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tested positive for Covid-19 hours after accompanying President Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. He had also met British prime minister Boris Johnson at the UN before testing positive.

Queiroga will remain in New York in quarantine, the government's communications office said in a statement. "The minister is doing well," the statement said. It added that the rest of the delegation tested negative for the virus.

14:44 (IST)22 Sep 2021
Important to respect UNSC resolutions on Cyprus, says Jaishankar hours after Turkish prez Erdogan mentions Kashmir in UNGA speech

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a bilateral meeting with his Cyprus counterpart Nikos Christodoulides during which he emphasised the need to adhere to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions in respect to the Island nation. 

Jaishankar's tweet came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a reference to Kashmir in his address to the UN General Assembly. The long ongoing conflict in Cyprus began in 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern part of the country in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Greek government. India has been advocating a peaceful resolution of the issue in accordance with the UN resolutions. 

14:16 (IST)22 Sep 2021
PM leaves for US, says visit occasion to strengthen strategic ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said his visit to the United States would be an occasion to strengthen the Indo-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and consolidate ties with Japan and Australia. 

14:08 (IST)22 Sep 2021
France denies newspaper report that it could give up Security Council seat

France on Wednesday flatly denied a report published on Wednesday in Britain's Daily Telegraph saying President Emmanuel Macron was willing to give up France's permanent seat on the UN Security Council in exchange for the formation of a Euroopean Union army.

"No, France has not offered to leave its seat on the United Nations' Security Council. It belongs to France and it will remain so," the presidency said on its Twitter account. (Reuters)

11:00 (IST)22 Sep 2021
Afghanistan’s Taliban want to address General Assembly, says UN

The Taliban, Afghanistan’s new rulers for a matter of weeks, are challenging the credentials of their country’s former UN ambassador and want to speak at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting of world leaders this week, the international body says.

The question now facing UN officials comes just over a month after the Taliban, ejected from Afghanistan by the United States and its allies after 9/11, swept back into power as US forces prepared to withdraw from the country at the end of August.

Taliban Spokesperson Suhail Shaheen. (AP Photo)

The Taliban said it was nominating a new UN permanent representative, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, the UN spokesman said. He has been a spokesman for the Taliban during peace negotiations in Qatar. (Read more)

22:26 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Should try to ensure fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines: Colombian President Iván Duque

Speaking at the UN general assembly meeting, Colombian President Iván Duque on Tuesday called for the fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Today, I call upon the international community to strengthen multilateralism in the area of health and to make progress in the fair distribution of vaccines,” Duque said.

“The divides existing between nations with regard to the process of vaccination are unprecedented. While some nations are acquiring additional doses for six or seven times the size of their population and are also announcing third booster shots, others have not even been able to inject one single dose of hope in their population," he added.

22:22 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Billionaires rocketing into space draw UN chief's red glare

When three billionaires rocketed into space this summer, they did more than escape Earth’s surly bonds, they helped spread “a malady of mistrust” plaguing an all-too hungry world, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told other world leaders earlier on Tuesday.

In his opening speech to the General Assembly, a grim Guterres highlighted the gap between the rich and poor with “billionaires joyriding to space while millions go hungry on Earth.”

In July, billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos flew into space on private rockets that their companies built, gathering worldwide attention in their short trips that didn’t make it into orbit. Both bank on space tourism business from their fellow space fans with big wallets.

After returning to Earth, Branson, 71, sprayed G.H. Mumm champagne over his crew and then chugged it from the bottle.

Billionaire Jared Isaacman led the first all-private orbital mission that splashed down Saturday after three days in orbit. His flight was on a Dragon capsule and Space X rocket built by a fourth space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk. Unlike the other two missions, Isaacman’s ride raised more than $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital including $100 million from Isaacman and $50 million from Musk. (AP)

22:19 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Redoubled efforts brought down Amazon deforestation: Bolsonaro

Recent preliminary data point in the right direction, showing that Amazon deforestation in June was roughly level year-on-year, and dropped in July and August compared to the same two months of 2020.

Bolsonaro said the results stemmed from his administration's redoubled efforts. Environmentalists say it is too early to know if this represents a trend and stress that deforestation levels remain elevated.

Before Bolsonaro took office, the Brazilian Amazon hadn’t recorded a single year with more than 10,000 square kilometers (3,861 square miles) of deforestation in over a decade. It surpassed that level in each of Bolsonaro's first two years, and final data for the reference period between Aug. 2020 and July 2021 may confirm a third year. (AP)

21:55 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Don’t understand why many countries positioned themselves against early treatment of Covid: Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said, “We don’t understand why many countries, along with much of the media, positioned themselves against early treatment. History and science will know how to hold all of them responsible,”.

He also praised the government’s generous Covid-19 welfare program that provided monthly payments to Brazil's poor. Its drawdown, however, fueled poverty.

The right-wing leader is embattled in Brazil as his approval ratings continue tumbling, in large part because the nation has recorded the world's second-highest Covid-19 death toll, with more than 590,000 dead. That's equal to the eighth-highest globally on a per capita basis. And Bolsonaro is more isolated internationally than ever following the electoral defeat of his ally, former U.S. President Donald Trump.

As he seeks to rehabilitate his image abroad, his critics had warned he was undertaking a disingenuous shift. It began at the White House-led climate summit in April, when he moved up the timeline for carbon neutrality by a decade and promised to stop illegal Amazon deforestation by 2030 in a nod to US President Joe Biden, who had called out Brazil’s environmental track record on the campaign trail last year. (AP)

21:44 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Jair Bolsonaro rebuffs criticism on pandemic

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro issued a strident defense of his administration at the UN General Assembly rebuffing criticism of its handling of the pandemic and touting recent data indicating less Amazon deforestation.

His presence at the General Assembly itself was something of a provocation as he flouted the requirement for all attendees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Infected with the virus last year, he has said several times over the last week he remains unvaccinated and that getting a shot is a personal medical decision.

“By November everyone who chooses to be vaccinated in Brazil will be attended to,” Bolsonaro said in his speech. “We support vaccination. However, our government has opposed vaccine passports or any obligation to get a vaccine.”

He also doubled down on early treatment drugs such as hydroxychloroquine without naming the drug. The antimalarial offered initial promise but scientists have roundly dismissed as ineffective against Covid-19.

Hydroxychloroquine was central to the chaos of pandemic response in Brazil presided over by four different health ministers, two of whom opposed Bolsonaro’s insistence to recommend it. (AP)

21:19 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Covid-19 caught everyone by surprise: Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told the UN General Assembly that Covid-19 “caught everyone by surprise” in 2020.

“I have always advocated that we should fight the virus, and unemployment at the same time, and with the same sense of responsibility," he said.

“In Brazil, to cater to the needs of the low-income population, who were forced to stay at home by decisions taken by governors and mayors, people who lost their income, we granted an emergency aid of 800 US dollars to 68 million people in 2020.”

20:31 (IST)21 Sep 2021
US believes in two-states solution with Palestinians, says Biden

US President Joe Biden stated that his support for Israel remains steadfast and that he believed in a two-state solution with the Palestinians. However, he added that we are a long from such a solution. 

20:15 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Must advocate the rights of Afghan women: Biden

"UNSC has adopted a resolution outlining how to support people of Afghanistan and laid out the expectations from the Taliban," Biden noted during his address. "We all must advocate the rights of women, girls to pursue their dreams free of violence and intimidation," he said.

20:05 (IST)21 Sep 2021
We are not seeking new Cold War: Biden

"We are not seeking a new cold war, where the world is divided...US is ready to work with any nation that pursues peaceful resolutions...because we have all suffered consequences of our failure," Biden stated, amid growing tensions between the US and China.

He added that US will oppose any attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones.

20:04 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Biden commits $10 billion to ending world hunger

US President Joe Biden stated that US will make $10 billion commitment to end hunger and invest infood systems at home and abroad.

19:56 (IST)21 Sep 2021
US to help provide funds to developing countries to combat climate change

US President Joe Biden added that he will work with Congress to double public international financing to help developing countries deal with climate change.

He added that US will be committed to pursue new rules of trade and economic growth to ensure a level playing field. 

19:53 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Military power must be our last resort, says Joe Biden

Speaking at the 76th UNGA for the first time as US Presidemt, Joe Biden stated that they had ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and were opening doors of diplomacy.

He added that "military power must be our last resort" in any crisis. 

He called for cooperation and support of multi-lateral institutions like the United Nations to combat challenges, including the Indo-Pacific.

19:25 (IST)21 Sep 2021
Will welcome Afghan Christians, women and children: Bolsonaro

Speaking at the UNGA, Jair Bolsonaro stated that the Afghanistan crisis is a cause of concern to Brazil and that the country will welcome Afghan Chrisitans, women and children as refugees.

"My country has always welcomed refugees. Project Welcome allowed entry of 400,000 Venezuelans following a political crisis in the country," he stated. 

Bolsonaro also outlined the country's environmental conservation policy towards the Amazon rainforest. "83 per cent of our energy comes from renewable resources," he said. 

Biden aims to enlist allies in tackling climate, COVID, more

US President Joe Biden planned to use his first address before the UN General Assembly to reassure other nations of American leadership on the global stage and call on allies to move quickly and cooperatively to address the festering issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights abuses.

Biden, who arrived in New York on Monday evening to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ahead of Tuesday's address, offered a full-throated endorsement of the body's relevance and ambition at a difficult moment in history.

The president, in brief remarks at the start of his meeting with Guterres, returned to his mantra that "America is back" — a phrase that's become presidential shorthand meant to encapsulate his promise to take a dramatically different tack with allies than predecessor Donald Trump.

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