Gridlock and K-pop: Things to know about this year's UN General Assembly session

K-pop group BTS (above) will speak at the launch of the "Generation Unlimited" Unicef campaign on Sept 24, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES (AFP) - About 130 world leaders are gathering at the United Nations this week for the annual high-level debate to address pressing global issues, from scrapping North Korea's nuclear weapons to financing development.

Here's a look at this year's session:

Gridlock in Manhattan

With so many world leaders in one place, security is ultra-tight. New York police are shutting down streets to traffic near the UN headquarters in midtown Manhattan and warning New Yorkers to brace for gridlock. The annual gathering elicits complaints from New Yorkers having to deal with a steady stream of motorcades and detours to get to work.

Diplomatic speed-dating

From Tuesday, 81 heads of state and 47 heads of government along with dozens of foreign ministers will take turns at the General Assembly podium. US President Donald Trump will be the second speaker, right after Brazil's President Michel Temer. France's Emmanuel Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are also speaking on the first day.

On the sidelines of the speeches, some 342 meetings and hundreds of bilateral talks are scheduled, in a marathon that UN ambassadors have dubbed "diplomatic speed-dating".

New faces

Several leaders are making their debut on the world stage including, from Africa: Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Angolan President Joao Lourenco. Other newcomers include Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez.


The UN is getting a serious dose of star power on Monday, when K-pop sensation BTS - the world's most popular boy band - speaks at the launch of the "Generation Unlimited" Unicef campaign. British-Lebanese international lawyer Amal Clooney will, for the first time, speak on the case of two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar, and actress Anne Hathaway will address a UN event on gender equality.

Wagyu beef and chocolate mousse

UN chief Antonio Guterres is hosting a luncheon for world leaders on Tuesday that caters to a wide range of culinary tastes. Lunch starts off with a small plate of cured gravlax carpaccio, followed by pan-seared Wagyu beef fillet with grilled asparagus. For desert: bittersweet chocolate mousse, chocolate dacquoise filled with raspberry coulis and chocolate rasberry.

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