Joe Biden: U.N. General Assembly focus includes climate, Ukraine; ; Putin, Xi are no-shows

President Biden plans to focus on sustainable development and infrastructure, efforts to combat climate change and shoring up the alliance supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia during his two-day trip to New York for the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mr. Biden will also use his annual U.N. address Tuesday to outline his “vision for how countries can harness their efforts to end conflict, defend human rights and the rule of law and help countries develop their economies,” senior administration officials said in a preview of the preeminent meeting for global diplomacy.

During his visit, Mr. Biden will meet one-on-one with key leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and government heads from Central Asia.

Brazil traditionally kicks off the lineup of dozens of world leaders addressing the U.N. delegates, and Mr. Biden is scheduled to follow closely after Mr. Lula speaks.

Senior administration officials said Mr. Biden will present ideas for reforming global organizations such as the U.N. and World Bank so they are “more effective and inclusive,” while rallying global partners to make the world safer and more prosperous. 

At the same time, the White House acknowledged this is a perilous time for the world.

“This is a time of geopolitical tension,” an official said, pointing to Russia’s unprovoked war and what U.S. officials say is China’s aggression in East Asia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend meetings in New York before a visit to Washington to press the White House and Congress for more military aid for his fight against Russian invaders.

Mr. Biden will use his assembly speech on Tuesday to underline the importance of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory, senior administration officials said.

The U.S. presence at the meeting will stand out, in part, because other major global leaders will be absent.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among those who declined to make the trip to Manhattan. While it is not unusual for them to decline to show up in person, French President Emmanuel Macron and the U.K.’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are also surprising no-shows. 

Mr. Macron has cited a scheduling conflict. He will be hosting King Charles III in France.

Among those who will be at the U.N. gathering is Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who arrived in New York Monday even as Washington and Tehran were executing a swap of prisoners amid sharp bilateral tensions. Mr. Raisi is tentatively slotted to speak to the General Assembly Tuesday afternoon.

Senior administration officials said they could not speak for other nations but said that Mr. Biden sees the U.N. as an “incredibly rich and important venue” for working with other leaders and tackling problems.

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