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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6:41 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Peru's president says country will declare a national climate emergency

From CNN's Karol Suarez

Peru will declare a national emergency on climate in the country as its commitment to tackling the climate change crisis, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo said when addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

"Peru has taken on the goal of becoming a country that is carbon neutral by 2050 and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by 30% to 40%, thereby respecting what was projected for 2030. As an expression of its commitment to the health of the planet, my government will declare the national climate emergency," Castillo said.

Castillo didn't provide further details about what a national emergency on climate entails. He went on to demand the countries that "pollute the most" to "meet their obligations."

"Human action without respect for nature has led us to question the viability of the planet fighting climate change calls into question our consciences," he said, adding that "desertification continues to clear forests, especially in the Amazon, and the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly devastating."

6:05 p.m. ET, September 21, 2021

Biden and Johnson stress action on climate change in Oval Office meeting

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

US President Joe Biden, right, speaks during an Oval Office meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden, right, speaks during an Oval Office meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday. (Alex Brandon/AP)

President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued to stress action on climate change in an Oval Office meeting Tuesday after the President’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly earlier in the day. 

“Earlier today I addressed the United Nations General Assembly and I made clear the climate has to be the core area of action for all of us, and as we look ahead to the UK hosted COP26, which I'm really anxious to attend in Glasgow in November,” Biden said.

“Our economies have to work together, including through our build back better world initiative that we launched in Cardiff Bay, and today we're going to discuss the next steps on all of this and as well as how the US and UK can continue our cooperation in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific and around the world and I want to thank you again Boris for making the effort to be here,” he added.

Johnson thanked the President for America’s cooperation on a number of fronts including lifting a ban on British beef, travel restrictions and most importantly climate change.

“I think the most important thing today has been your speech Joe to UNGA where you made a commitment on supporting the world to adapt to climate change, doubling the American commitment,” Johnson said, calling it fantastic to see the US stepping up and leading on the issue.

Johnson also discussed the new trilateral partnership among the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, saying it “has great potential to benefit the whole of the world with security.”

Asked is Britain was still at “the back of the queue” for a free trade deal, the President said he would talk about trade with Johnson today and they will “have to work that through.” Biden said he does feel very strongly about the Irish Accords and keeping those in place amid Brexit.

“We spent enormous amount of time and effort in the United States. It was a major bipartisan effort made and I would not at all like to see, nor I might add would many of my Republican colleagues, like to see a change in the Irish Accords, the end result having a closed border again,” Biden said, drawing an agreement from Johnson.

Biden also briefly weighed in on the possible extradition of Anne Sacoolas, the US woman accused of killing 19-year-old Harry Dunn in August 2019 while she was driving on the wrong side of the road in England, saying the case is being worked on and he believes there had been a civil settlement reached. He said he doesn’t know the status of the case right now but he would follow up. 

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.