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World leaders won't go to New York for UN General Assembly, citing COVID-19 concerns

World leaders won't go to New York for UN General Assembly, citing COVID-19 concerns
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World leaders will not converge on New York City for their annual U.N. General Assembly in September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“World leaders cannot come to New York because they cannot come simply as individuals,” Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, president of the U.N. General Assembly, said at a press conference Monday, The Associated Press reported

“A president doesn’t travel alone, leaders don’t travel alone,” he said. He added that “it is impossible” to bring large delegations to New York during the pandemic. 

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However, Muhammad-Bande added that he hopes to announce the coming weeks a plan that will allow the U.N.'s 193 world leaders to give their speeches during the assembly's General Debate.

“We cannot have them in person as we used to — what happened in the last 74 years — but it will happen,” Muhammad-Bande explained.

Muhammad-Bande's comments come after Secretary General Antonio Guterres recommended in May that annual gathering be significantly scaled back because of the pandemic.

The U.N. General Assembly usually brings thousands of world government officials to New York City.

This year's iteration of the gathering is the 75th anniversary of the U.N.'s creation. Muhammad-Bande noted that the celebration would start June 26, the date the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco was signed 75 years ago, and then continue throughout the year. He added that world leaders would have the opportunity to mark the occasion, just not in person.