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UN General Assembly Holds Virtual Summit for World in Crisis
By Staff, Agencies
The United Nations General Assembly, the annual extravaganza of world leaders' speeches and round-the-clock diplomacy, opens Tuesday in a quiet hall as a virtual summit addresses the global crisis of Covid-19.
For once, Midtown Manhattan will not be bunkered down in a frenzy of motorcades, and there will be no speculation of breakthrough meetings.
Leaders instead have been invited to send in pre-recorded messages, to be played over the coming week in the vast General Assembly where each delegation can send a single masked diplomat.
US President Donald Trump, as leader of the host nation, passed on the chance to come in person to the General Assembly, with a speech before low-profile diplomats unlikely to figure as part of his strategy for re-election in November.
The summit in normal years draws about 10,000 people from around the world, a prospect that is unthinkable at a time when nations have imposed strict entrance requirements to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which has claimed nearly 950,000 lives.
With no chance for in-person meetings and the give-and-take of negotiations, some UN-based diplomats wonder how much can be achieved.
The United Nations is nonetheless moving ahead with thematic meetings -- also virtual -- on the sidelines of the summit to tackle major issues including the coronavirus pandemic as well as climate change, biodiversity and the political turbulence both in Libya and Lebanon.
But there will also be less chance for dramatic exchanges between leaders in their speeches.
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