The United Nations General Assembly

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 5:50 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019
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5:10 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

What to know about today's United Nations Climate Action Summit


Global leaders gathered today in New York City for the annual United Nations General Assembly.

Here's how it went down:

  • Climate summit: The UN arranged a special Climate Action Summit today. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a speech at the summit, telling leaders, "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words — and yet, I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering, people are dying." President Trump, who was initially expected to skip the event, attended the climate session. He left after 15 minutes for his own summit.
  • Trump also held a summit: The President organized a religious freedom event, where he announced US funding for protecting religious sites and relics. The event focused on combating religious persecution around the globe.
  • The Ukraine drama: Trump faced questions on the Ukraine matter as he went from meeting to meeting at the United Nations today. 
  • What to expect this week: Trump will deliver remarks at the UN tomorrow morning. He's expected to focus on national sovereignty and individual nations' responsibility for self-defense. On Wednesday, Trump will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the summit.

4:23 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Trump says he'll be discussing Iran during his UN speech tomorrow

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Asked today about his speech at the United Nations tomorrow, President Trump said he would be talking about Iran and the economy.

The President declined to say whether he would ramp up pressure on Iran during his speech tomorrow.

“A lot of things are happening with respect to Iran, a lot more than you know...I’ll be discussing it a little bit tomorrow," he said.

1:48 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

UN Secretary-General calls Trump's appearance at the climate summit "a step forward"

From CNN’s Richard Roth

UN Secretary-General António Guterres described President Trump’s appearance at the Climate Action Summit as a “step forward.”

He had a half-smile, but didn’t reply when asked about Trump listening but not speaking at the summit.

1:04 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Angela Merkel pledges to double Germany's climate protection funding

From CNN’s Deborah Bloom


German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to double her country's climate protection funding at today's special United Nations summit.

Merkel, speaking at the Climate Action Summit, said industrialized countries created the crisis and "have the obligation to put our technology, the best of our knowledge, and our finances into stopping global warming as we know it."

"Germany sees its responsibility on the international stage and on the national stage," she said. "Internationally, we shall increase our funding for global climate protection from $2-4 billion euros and compared to 2014. In particular, we will aim at 1.5 billion and pay this into the green climate fund."
12:51 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Trump says he is "a big believer in clean air and clean water," but thinks countries "should do it for themselves"

From CNN’s Richard Roth

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said he believes in clean water and air but also thinks countries "should do it for themselves"

"I’m a big believer in clean air and clean water, and all countries should get together and do that, and they should do it for themselves. Very, very important," he told reporters after attending the United Nations's Climate Action Summit.

About the summit: Earlier today, Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a speech at the summit, telling leaders, "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."

Breaking with tradition, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told leaders not to come to the podium without "concrete and transformative plans" to halt rising global temperatures, achieve carbon neutrality and cut carbon emissions by 45 percent.

5:50 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Iran's president says US sanctions show "desperation"

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes and Hira Humayun

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani flew to New York this morning, according to state-run Press TV.

Rouhani landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport today ahead of a speech Wednesday at the United Nation General Assembly, where he will propose a “Hormuz Peace” initiative aimed at de-escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf. 

"We are headed to the UN while the Americans have pushed their sanctions campaign so far that they admit there is nothing left for them to sanction," Rouhani said, according to Press TV.

Rouhani added that the failure of US sanctions had put the United States in a state of "absolute desperation" regarding Iran.

Press TV reported that Rouhani “felt compelled” to participate in the UNGA because the United States does not seem “very eager to have various Iranian delegations at the UN and speaking to the media” and that “the fact that they are not that eager shows that it is imperative for us to be at the UN at different levels and speak out, because we have logic and strong arguments while our enemies don't.”

12:26 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Iran's Rouhani will not meet with Trump

From CNN’s Carolyn Sung, Mirna Alsharif and Ken Borland


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will not meet with President Trump, the country's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told reporters at the United Nations today.

He ignored questions from reporters as he exited UN headquarters, saying, “I’ve got to go to the airport to pick up the president.”

Asked if Rouhani will meet with Trump, Zarif shouted, “No!”

11:46 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Greta Thunberg: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood"

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly today, said she shouldn't have to be addressing the crisis.

"I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope," she said. "How dare you!"

She continued: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words — and yet, I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering, people are dying."

Watch the moment:

11:20 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Trump is attending the UN climate summit

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Trump is now attending the United Nations Climate Action Summit. He wasn't originally expected to attend, since he's hosting a session on religious persecution in the same building. 

Trump is listening to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi deliver remarks at the climate summit. He is sitting in the US seat in the audience with his hands folded, with a translation headset in his right ear.  

Behind him are Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and the US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft.  

Mulvaney and Pompeo are chatting among themselves as Modi speaks.