More than 150 world leaders will gather in New York today for the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Here are the seven major players to watch.
1. CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first speech at the United Nations will likely stress China’s status as a charter member. President Xi already made headlines during yesterday’s speech at the UN when he vowed to “reaffirm” China’s commitment to women’s rights. What will he not talk about? Expanding membership to the Security Council. An additional spot could mean admitting China’s rival, Japan.
2. KING ABDULLAH OF JORDAN With over 600,000 Syrian refugees flooding Jordan, King Abdullah’s attention will be fighting regional terrorism. He may also raise the issue of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, telling a visiting group of Arab Israeli Knesset members that the third holiest site for Islam should be reserved for “Muslim prayer only.” Tensions at Temple Mount between Israeli security forces and Palestinians have continued to increase.
3. RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN Speaking for the first time at the UN in ten years, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to focus on Syria. Over the past several weeks, Putin has increased Russian military aid to Syria, bolstering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Just yesterday, Russia announced it will share intelligence with Iraq, Syria, and Iran to fight ISIS. The focus on Syria turns attention away from Russia’s role in Ukraine, and allows Putin to present Russia as a major global power.
4. IRANIAN PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will likely encourage countries to fulfill the agreement (i.e. lifting economic sanctions) put forth in this summer’s Iran Deal. Rouhani may also focus on fighting terrorism, specifically by supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s ally.
5. CUBAN PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO RUZ Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz will address his country’s new relationship with the United States and the importance of removing economic sanctions. But don’t expect him to praise the U.S. During the pope’s visit to Cuba last week, President Castro was quick to denounce U.S. policies.
6. PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS According to the Times of Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will give Israel a “deadline” for “meeting its obligations” or he will void the Oslo Accords. The Oslo Accords, signed in 1993, spell out which areas of the West Bank are controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Speculation that Abbas will announce a “deadline” for Israel runs counter to earlier reports that he may terminate the Oslo Accords or declare Palestine an occupied state.
7. ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may directly urge President Abbas to resume peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Yesterday, the prime minister applauded Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s plea for a resolution to the conflict. Netanyahu could also respond to accusations made against Israel regarding clashes at the Temple Mount. On Friday, in a video message to Muslims, he disputed claims that Israel was provoking “the status quo” at the holy site.