UN General Assembly kicks off in New York City

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT) September 22, 2021
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5:11 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Turkish president says country will present Paris climate agreement to parliament next month

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/Pool/AP)

Turkey plans to present the Paris climate agreement to its parliament next month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his United Nations General Assembly speech Tuesday afternoon.

“We are among the first countries to have signed the Paris climate agreement, however, we hadn’t yet ratified this agreement due to the injustices related to stated obligations and burden sharing,” he said.

“I would like to announce to the whole world, here from the United Nations General Assembly, the decision we have taken following the progress made within the framework of the agreement … we plan to present the Paris climate agreement for approval to our Parliament next month.”

About the Paris climate agreement: It's an international agreement among nearly 200 nations to combat climate change.

Participants are committed to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees. Each country is responsible for developing their own plans for achieving those goals.

4:08 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

President Xi Jinping says China will stop building coal plants abroad

From CNN's Caitlin Hu

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a video screen as he addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a video screen as he addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/Pool/AP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country would stop building coal plants abroad, marking a new climate commitment and a shift in policy around its sprawling Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Speaking in a pre-recorded video to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Xi said the country would also contribute to financial support for developing countries to address the climate crisis.

“China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Xi said, according to a translation tweeted by China's mission to the UN.

3:55 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

France says it did not change UN plans after submarine deal

From CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne

France did not change its United Nations General Assembly plans in light of the submarine deal between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, according to a spokesperson for the Elysee.

“The Foreign Minister was always going to represent France at the UNGA, the submarines deal did not change our plans,” she said.

Why we're talking about submarines: The French government recently said it was betrayed when Australia pulled out of their existing multi-billion dollar defense deal, agreeing instead to attain nuclear-powered submarines through a new deal with the United States and the United Kingdom.

Australia was concerned the conventional submarines it ordered from France would not meet its strategic needs, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday.

4:08 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Iranian president says nuclear weapons "have no place" in the country's defense doctrine

From CNN’s Hira Humayun

In this image taken from video, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi remotely addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday.
In this image taken from video, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi remotely addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday. (UN Web TV/AP)

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi told the United Nations General Assembly that nuclear weapons have “no place” in Iran’s defense doctrine. 

“Nukes have no place in our defense doctrine and deterrence policy,” he said in a pre-recorded address Tuesday, adding his country’s strategic policy is to “consider the production and stockpiling of atomic weapons as forbidden."

Raisi reiterated his criticism of the US for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA. 

The US’ attempt to “counter the Iranian people” by violating the JCPOA and taking the “maximum pressure” approach, have “totally failed … However, the policy of maximum tyranny is still on,” he said.

Rasi called for all parties to stay true to the nuclear deal in practice, adding that multiple reports released by the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, have “attested to adherence of Iran to its commitments.” 

“However, the US has not yet discharged its obligations which is lifting sanctions,” Raisi said, going on to say that Iran does not trust promises made by the US government. 

“The United States mistakenly believed it would render us desperate and devastated, but our perseverance has yielded results and will always do," he told world leaders.

3:20 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

South Korean president calls for resumption of talks with North Korea

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

South Korean President Moon Jae-in addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday. (Eduardo Munoz/Pool/AP)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for the resumption of talks between North Korea and South Korea, and North Korea and the US.

“I call for a speedy resumption of dialogue between the two Koreas, and between the United States and North Korea. I hope to see that the Korean Peninsula will prove the power of dialogue and cooperation in fostering peace,” he said.

Moon also reiterated his call for a declaration to mark the end of war on the Korean Peninsula.

“More than anything, an end-of-war declaration will mark a pivotal point of departure in creating a new order of reconciliation and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula,” he said, suggesting the two Koreas with the US or the two Koreas with the US and China “declare that the war on the Korean Peninsula is over."

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Koreas simultaneous admission into the United Nations, he added.

 

2:31 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Iran's president slams US in UN speech, says world no longer cares about "America First"

From CNN's Caitlin Hu 

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi remotely addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2021 in New York. 
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi remotely addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2021 in New York.  Eduardo Munoz/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took aim at the United States in a blunt pre-recorded speech Tuesday afternoon, invoking two moments that he said “made history” this year: the Capitol insurrection of Jan. 6, and Afghan civilians seen falling from American evacuation planes last month in Kabul.

In the light of such scenes, Raisi called for the US to refrain from trying to influence the world, saying the world no longer cares about “America First” or “America’s Back” — a jab at both President Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump.

“Freedom does not fit in the backpacks of soldiers coming from outside the region,” he added.

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly since becoming president, Raisi also attacked the US for keeping sanctions on Iran, amid stalled negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

“We want only what is rightfully ours. All powers must stay true to the nuclear deal in practice,” he said.

2:27 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Biden met with Iraq's president on sidelines at UN

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

John Minchillo/Pool/Getty Images
John Minchillo/Pool/Getty Images

President Biden met with Iraq's President Barham Salih on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the White House announced Tuesday in a readout of the meeting, saying the two "discussed strengthening the bilateral relationship and deepening cooperation on regional diplomatic initiatives."

"President Biden stressed the U.S. commitment to Iraq’s long-term stability and the leaders reaffirmed their respect for Iraq’s democracy, rule of law, and efforts to hold credible and transparent elections this October. He lauded recent initiatives such as the Baghdad Regional Summit and the historic visit of Pope Francis to Iraq earlier this year as an important symbol of Iraq’s contributions to regional stability and interfaith tolerance," the readout said.

The meeting was not listed on Biden's schedule released by the White House.

1:11 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Colombian president calls for free and fair elections in Venezuela to address the migration crisis

From CNN's Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Eduardo Munoz/Pool/Getty Images
Eduardo Munoz/Pool/Getty Images

Colombian President Iván Duque called on free and fair elections in Venezuela to address the “millions of Venezuelans fleeing the narco dictatorship and infamy,” and outlined the steps his government has undertaken to address the issue.

"The work with the United Nations and the office of Dr. Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees, has shown great progress, such as providing temporary protection status to more than one million two hundred thousand Venezuelan migrants living in our country," Duque said during his UNGA speech Tuesday.

"We undertake this challenge not being a rich country and at an enormous fiscal cost. The situation requires that through the donor conferences that have been established, we now need to see the disbursements of the commitments of the international community, and I urge you to do that," Duque asked.

Duque said his government's goal is to naturalize the 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants living in Colombia.

With the temporary protection status, Venezuelans can legally work in Colombia and earn the same amount as a Colombian citizen would, according to a government statement from August.

Duque also addressed the talks between the government of Nicolás Maduro and Venezuelan opposition taking place in Mexico City, saying “those talks do give some hope” but the only effective solution to “the worst migration crisis affecting the planet” is holding a free and transparent presidential election that involved international observation as soon as possible.

"Any solution that perpetuates the shameful dictatorship and allows the regime to gain time will only exacerbate the humanitarian disaster that our continent is experiencing. The end of the dictatorship is the only viable way to move forward for the well-being of the Venezuelan people, it should, above all, be the purpose of international action," he said.

1:14 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Colombian president calls for fair distribution of vaccines

From CNN's Karol Suarez

Timothy A. Clary/Pool/Getty Images
Timothy A. Clary/Pool/Getty Images

Colombian President Iván Duque on Tuesday called for the fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

"Today, I call upon the international community to strengthen multilateralism in the area of health and to make progress in the fair distribution of vaccines, delegates," Duque said during his address at the United Nations General Assembly, calling out what he called “shortcomings in multilateralism” in a coordinated response “during the most critical times.”

“The divides existing between nations with regard to the process of vaccination are unprecedented. While some nations are acquiring additional doses for six or seven times the size of their population and are also announcing third booster shots, others have not even been able to inject one single dose of hope in their population," he said.

The equitable distribution of the Covid-19 “is our moral duty," he said, adding that Colombia is making progress in the national vaccination plan "to cover as the minimum 70% of our citizens."