What Happened at the U.N. General Assembly
CreditBrittainy Newman/The New York Times
Leading off the day: four bombastic presidents, ending with Brexit’s chief advocate.
President Trump was surrounded by like-minded company when the speeches began in the cavernous General Assembly hall on Manhattan’s East Side. He was preceded by President Jair M. Bolsonaro of Brazil, sometimes called the mini-Trump, a polarizing figure at home who, like Mr. Trump, dismisses fears about climate change and disparages critics on Twitter.
After Mr. Trump came President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, the former general who has come to symbolize the repression of the Arab Spring revolutions — although his appearance was thrown into doubt this past weekend as protests erupted at home. He was followed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, an autocrat who has bullied critics and whose government is a leading jailer of journalists.
Twenty-one leaders were scheduled to speak on Tuesday alone. The final one scheduled is Boris Johnson, making his United Nations debut as Britain’s prime minister. His visit came as the country’s top court delivered a stinging rebuke to Mr. Johnson, ruling he had acted unconstitutionally in suspending Parliament, an action taken as he tries to take his country out of the European Union by Oct. 31.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump embraced the theme of nationalism and took aim at China, Iran and Venezuela.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
Trump takes aim at China, Iran and Venezuela, and rejects globalism.
Making his third appearance as president of the United States, Mr. Trump recounted what he described as his administration’s strong economic achievements. He embraced the theme of nationalism and rejected the principles of multilateral cooperation often heard at the United Nations.
“If you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. And if you want peace, love your nation,” he said. “Wise leaders put the good of their own people and their own country first. The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations, who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.”
He devoted much of his speech to disparaging China over trade disputes with the United States, Iran over its actions in the Middle East and Venezuela over that country’s economic demise under President Nicolás Maduro.
Mr. Trump warned the Chinese authorities in Beijing, “We are carefully monitoring the situation in Hong Kong,” where months of anti-Beijing protests have raised fears of a Chinese crackdown.
He defended his decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and impose crippling sanctions, declaring that “the regime’s record of death and destruction is well known to us all.” And he accused the Iranian authorities of “a fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.”
At the same time Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly said he was willing to talk with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, pledged that “America is ready to embrace friendship to those who genuinely accept it.”
Trump and Johnson speak while facing scandals at home.
President Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain have always shared a certain affinity and style of politics, but as they shared the world stage at the United Nations on Tuesday, each was also facing stark domestic troubles at home.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Johnson were both speaking at the United Nations General Assembly and met on the sidelines of the session for their second in-person meeting since the British leader took office in July. In each case, though, at least one eye was focused on gathering political clouds back in their capitals.
In Washington, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was convening a meeting with the entire House Democratic caucus amid rising momentum for impeachment, after revelations that Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president for dirt on his leading Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., while blocking American aid to Kiev.
Mr. Trump has acknowledged raising Mr. Biden and corruption questions with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in a July 25 telephone call. He also personally ordered his staff to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine in the days before he pressed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden.
The timing of the decision to block the aid and Mr. Trump’s personal involvement, which were first reported by The Washington Post, added new factors to the intense debate over the president’s effort to persuade Ukraine to examine unsubstantiated corruption accusations involving Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
In London, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Mr. Johnson acted illegally when he suspended Parliament amid the roiling debate over Britain’s plans to withdraw from the European Union. The ruling was a striking rebuke of the prime minister that means lawmakers will return to session three weeks earlier than he had scheduled.
Mr. Johnson has suffered an extraordinary series of legal and political defeats since becoming prime minister, including losing his majority in the House of Commons. Britain faces an Oct. 31 withdrawal deadline to leave the European Union. — PETER BAKER
Erdogan accuses ‘populist politicians’ of fomenting hatred
In his speech before the General Assembly, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey denounced the spread of hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, migrants and other minority groups around the world, citing the massacre of 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, as an example.
He accused “populist politicians seeking to garner votes” of “provoking these tendencies,” without singling any figure out, and condemned “prejudice, the ignorance, the bigotry as well as the attempts of marginalizing toward migrants, particularly Muslims.”
The Turkish leader described the surge in hate crimes as “a raging insanity” for which the world bore responsibility.
Mr. Erdogan, who has himself embraced autocratic and populist policies in more than 15 years in power, said that leaders today had a duty “to adopt an inclusive public rhetoric to eradicate this foe once and for all.”
“This scourge can only be defeated by the common will,” he said.
Mr. Erdogan noted that Turkey had welcomed millions of refugees from Syria, suggesting that his country was leading the world in this push. (Turkey has also pushed for resettling thousands of refugees in a swath of Syrian territory controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies.)
He also denounced what he described as Israel’s territorial expansionism, renewed a call for the immediate establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and called for talks to resolve the longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan over the territory of Kashmir.
Worried that ‘miscalculation’ threatens peace, French leader seeks dialogue between Iran and the United States.
President Emmanuel Macron of France, who has been struggling to salvage the Iran nuclear agreement repudiated by President Trump last year, called on the United States and Iran to pursue negotiations. Mr. Macron also said the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the United States and its Western allies have blamed on Iran, had heightened the risk of war.
“Now more than ever is the time for negotiations among Iran, the United States, the signatories of the J.C.P.O.A. and regional powers, centered on the region’s security and stability,” Mr. Macron said in his General Assembly speech, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the 2015 nuclear deal. The attacks on Saudi Arabia, he said, showed that “peace is at the mercy of an incident, a miscalculation.”
Russia summons American official over visas for U.N.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned an American Embassy official in Moscow after several members of the Russian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly did not get visas to enter the United States, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, called the episode a “very worrisome and unpleasant” violation of the United States’ international commitments. Mr. Putin is not attending the General Assembly, sending Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov in his stead.
One delegate, Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of Parliament, said he had applied for his visa on July 30. He accused Washington of having intentionally stalled the visa process to prevent him from coming, the Interfax news agency reported.
The State Department had no immediate comment. The flap is the latest in a long-running dispute between Moscow and Washington over visa policy that has punctuated tensions between the nations. Russia this summer denied visas to some teachers at the Anglo-American School in Moscow and to two senators who had planned to visit.
Bolsonaro takes aim at Amazon critics and ‘ideology’
Mr. Bolsonaro devoted part of his speech to denounce critics who accuse him of allowing rampant deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by people burning it to clear land for farming and other uses.
“We all know that all countries have problems,” Mr. Bolsonaro said. “The sensationalist attacks we have suffered due to fire outbreaks have aroused our patriotic sentiment.”
Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research agency identified 40,341 fires in the Amazon region in the first eight months of this year, about 35 percent higher than the average for the first eight months of each year since 2010.
He said that Brazil has a “zero tolerance policy” toward crime, including environmental crimes, but added, “The Amazon is not being devastated, nor is it being consumed by fire as the media misleadingly says.”
Mr. Bolsonaro also denounced “the politically correct,” which he said had “become a constant in public debate to expel common sense.”
“Ideology has invaded the human soul itself to expel God and the dignity which he has endowed us,” he said, before alluding to an attack he suffered while campaigning for president in 2018.
“I was cowardly stabbed because of a left-wing activist, and I only survived by a miracle,” he said.
Iran finds itself isolated as attacks on Saudi Arabia draw U.S. and Europe closer.
On the eve of the speeches, the leaders of Britain, Germany and France took the American side in blaming Iran for the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia. The move was a setback for Iran, which has denied any role in the attacks, and was a stark contrast to the sympathy Iran had engendered a year ago after President Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The Europeans, who have been seeking to salvage that agreement, issued a joint statement on Monday that not only accused Iran of responsibility for the attacks on Saudi Arabia, but called on Iran to begin negotiating on broader issues than its nuclear program.
The statement aligned with Washington’s position on both the Saudi attacks and the demand for a stronger nuclear deal, and represented a major shift in Europe’s position of tolerance with Iran.
“The time has come for Iran to accept a long term negotiation framework for its nuclear program, as well as regional security issues, which include its missile programs,” the statement said.
— FARNAZ FASSIHI
Climate Summit: Auspicious optics but few promises, and one angry young activist.
Speaking at the United Nations climate summit, the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a speech criticizing world leaders for their inaction on protecting the environment.CreditCreditCarlo Allegri/Reuters
A day before the speeches, Secretary General António Guterres convened the United Nations Climate Action Summit, intended to punctuate and increase promises by presidents, prime ministers and corporate executives to wean the global economy from fossil fuels to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
But China made no new pledges to take stronger climate action. The United States, having vowed to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the pact among nations to jointly fight climate change, said nothing.
A host of countries made only incremental commitments. The contrast between the slow pace of action and the urgency of the problem was underscored by the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, who castigated what she called the “business as usual” approach of world leaders. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she said, her voice quavering with rage. “If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”
— SOMINI SENGUPTA and LISA FRIEDMAN
Trump puts new pressure on Venezuela’s Maduro.
Moving to further squeeze President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, the United States and multiple Latin American nations invoked a rarely used accord that will likely lead to new sanctions on his government, which they hold responsible for Venezuela’s economic collapse and a refugee crisis afflicting the region. But now they may need to defend their decision from Russia, Mr. Maduro’s key foreign ally.
The accord known as the Rio Treaty, which was easily invoked Monday by most of its 19 signatories, clears a path for Western Hemisphere states to impose new economic punishments and pressure on Mr. Maduro. (It also opens the possibility to military action, although neither the United States nor the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, currently supports that route.)
After the accord was invoked, Mr. Maduro’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, was quoted by a Venezuelan newspaper, Tal Cual, as saying it would likely be challenged by Russia in the United Nations Security Council. Russia, which has veto power in the Security Council, is an important backer of Mr. Maduro, who was to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Moscow on Wednesday.
In an interview on Tuesday morning, Mr. Guaidó’s chief envoy to the United States denied that the Rio Treaty could be halted. “Nobody will be able to stop it,” said the envoy, Carlos Vecchio.
“Russia has been supporting not Maduro, they have been supporting the suffering of the Venezuelans,” Mr. Vecchio said. “The international community understands that the presence of Cubans and Russians in Venezuela have made this crisis more complicated, and this is something that has to be addressed.”
In his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, President Trump again called Mr. Maduro a puppet of Cuba. Additionally, the Treasury Department issued new sanctions against three shipping companies in Panama and a fourth in Cyprus accused of transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba. — LARA JAKES
In the hallways, on guard for awkward encounters.
While Mr. Trump will not be seeing the presidents of China, Russia and Venezuela, who are skipping the General Assembly this year, the potential is large for awkwardness between leaders who may inadvertently see each other in the halls and conference rooms.
Diplomats who just a few weeks ago had foreseen a meeting between President Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran say that it is now unlikely, given the rising tensions between the two countries. Nor is a meeting predicted between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who are not known to even talk to each other.
Other potential unpleasantness may loom should President Bolsonaro of Brazil encounter President Emmanuel Macron of France, who exchanged mutual insults last month via social media over Mr. Bolsonaro’s handling of fires and deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Deteriorating relations between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea have lowered expectations for any warming at the United Nations, even if Mr. Trump seeks to bring them together. And the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, is still furious with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India over the Indian crackdown last month in the disputed territory of Kashmir.