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Biden prepares for UNGA, Central Asia summit


President Joe Biden is in New York ahead of his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, where he will try to convince leaders that his vision for American leadership and his multilateral approach to foreign policy will help solve the most pressing problems of the world.

Some of these issues include climate change and the ongoing war in Ukraine, which is having a huge impact on the global supply chain and inflation.

Biden could have an opportunity to dominate diplomatic engagements in New York, as leaders of America’s adversaries skip the gathering. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, will not be present. Nor will Chinese President Xi Jinping and his top diplomat Wang Yi.

One of Biden’s key goals in his speech is to maintain his support for Ukraine as countries in the South increasingly call for speeding up peace negotiations between Moscow and Kiev. Citizens of these developing countries are bearing the burden of conflict over global energy and food prices and are increasingly concerned about the prospect of protracted war.

Although there is no uniform view of the war in the Global South, most non-Western members of the U.N. want to see a diplomatic settlement to the war as soon as possible, said Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the International Crisis Group.

“Even some Ukraine sympathizers think kyiv should start negotiating while Russian troops are still on its territory,” Gowan told VOA. “The fact that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has brought little spectacular progress reinforces their sense that it is time to resort to diplomacy. »

White House officials emphasize that Washington would support peace negotiations leading to a “just peace” in Ukraine, based on the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“Over the past several months, we have built strong engagement and dialogue with the Global South on what a just peace would ultimately look like,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Friday. during a press briefing. “It doesn’t seem like Russia is particularly serious about this at the moment.”

Key to that dialogue is a bilateral meeting scheduled for Wednesday with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the new president of the 20 largest economies, or G20. A staunch defender of the Global South, Lula criticized the West for prolonging the conflict by providing military support to the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and pushed for peace talks.

Zelenskyy will have a chance to make his own case on Tuesday when he addresses the General Assembly directly – his first appearance before the world body since the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian leader will be welcomed at the White House on Thursday.

Central Asia Summit

On Tuesday, Biden is also expected to hold a summit with the leaders of the five Central Asian countries: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The dialogue between the United States and these countries, called the C5+1 format, began in 2015, but Tuesday’s meeting would mark the first time a U.S. president has met with the leaders together.

Regional security, climate change, trade and connectivity, as well as ongoing reforms aimed at improving governance and the rule of law, would be the focus of the summit, according to the White House.

The meeting is part of the administration’s strategic move to embrace the region, where the United States had less influence than that of Russia and China. Xi and Putin met with these Central Asian leaders earlier this year.

Also on Tuesday, Biden will meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Biden will also host the traditional reception with world leaders in the evening.

Bilateral with Netanyahu

Another key meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA is Biden’s meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It would be Biden’s first in-person engagement with Netanyahu since the Israeli leader’s election victory last November and the establishment of the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

Biden and some Democrats have expressed disapproval of Netanyahu’s government’s harsh policies, including his proposed judicial reform that critics say poses a danger to the country’s democracy. Biden and Netanyahu are also at odds over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and the United States’ demand to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinian citizens.

At the same time, Washington is working on a deal to help Israel normalize diplomatic relations with its Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.

While in New York, Biden will also attend campaign events, including a Tuesday evening called “Broadway for Biden.”

Anita Powell contributed to this report.