Follow live as Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin – a..

United Nations general assembly: China rejects Trump’s ‘baseless’ Covid accusations – as it happened

Follow live as Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin – among others – deliver video messages

As Macron epic delivery ends, it also wraps up the opening session of the first virtual UN general assembly.

We’re going to close down the blog now, but here is a look back at a morning of speeches:

Macron is now criticising the US for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and for its sanctions.

“The maximum pressure strategy, which has been underway for several years, has not at this stage made it possible to end Iran’s destabilising activities or to ensure that it will not be able to acquire nuclear weapons,” Macron said.

Remember, our diplomatic sources say this last speech of the morning session could be 40 minutes. Strap in.

Macron is seeking to assert himself as a global leadership figure as Trump and others step away from UN multilateralism in favour of nationalism and isolation.

French President Emmanuel Macron is up on the screens to end the morning session of the opening day of the general assembly, which has seen some of the world’s most powerful countries take the virtual stand.

Iran’s Hassan Rouhani has focused his talk on attacking the US for ending the nuclear agreement and imposing severe economic sanctions on his country.

The Iranian nation has not only resisted maximum pressure, but has also flourished and advanced while pursuing its historic and civilization role as a pivot of peace and stability.

Duterte was the first leader to exploit the rule that allows video graphics in their speeches.

His address was mixed with photos of Philippine forces and of the president himself, signing documents.

Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has appeared on the podium video screen.

Known for his striking speeches – including once comparing himself to Hitler – the president has started with a fairly standard UN speech, focusing on calling for international cooperation in fighting the pandemic and resolving global disputes, such as the South China Sea issue.

Qatar’s leader, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, starts by criticising recent moved by his neighbours, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, for signing accords with Israel.

The Washington-back deals were seen as ignoring the Palestinians, who have rejected Trump as a peace mediator.

Events have slowed down a bit with Jordanand South Korea, both of whom are reiterating their long-standing policies.

Jordan’s King Abdullah called for rehabilitation of the ailing Israel-Palestine two-state solution.

Putin says Russia’s vaccine is “reliable, safe and effective”.

Others are not yet convinced:

Related: 'They've jumped the gun': scientists worry about Russia's Covid-19 vaccine

Vladimir Putin of Russia is up next.

He begins by arguing that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council should retain their “veto power” over UN resolutions despite calls for it to be reformed. Many members states say the veto rule is undemocratic.

Cuba is also giving China a run for its money in the video-call-background-competition (that I made up).

Díaz Canel has chosen to sit in front on a melange of palms and ferns, with the foliage somehow made even more verdant by green studio lights.

Nope! We’re back to drama.

Cuba’s presidenthas just launched a snappy tirade against Donald Trump.

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, was next.

2020 will be remembered for the Black Lives Matter movement, he said, going on to talk in generic terms about global cooperation.

As Chile’s talk continues beyond the 15-minute deadline, Julian Borger has some analysis on China’s news-making speech:

Xi Jinping adopted the role of the adult superpower in the room in his address, presented in front of a painting of the Great Wall. Unlike Trump, he spoke the language of multilateral diplomacy. And he made news, declaring that China’s carbon dioxide emissions would peak by 2030 and the country would reach carbon neutrality by 2060, targets the EU has been urging Beijing to agree to.

Sebastián Piñera Echenique, the president of Chile,is now defending his government’s crackdown on protests this year.

You can read more about that here:

Related: Chile police using Covid-19 quarantine as pretext to crush protest, activists say

Trump’s UN speech is already and predictably being promoted as an election video:

Thank you, @POTUS!#UNGA

Chile speaking now. After that, we have:

…and we have photos of Xi Jinping’s background:

Some more analysis, this time from our diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, on Turkey’s talk:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used his general assembly address to set out Turkey’s bitter objections to its exclusion from the East Mediterranean, but said he was ready to resume talks bound by international law to address their contested maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean. By his recent rhetorical standards, the speech was one of Erdoğan’s mildest.

Xi says there is no point trying to fight globalisation.

He is also calling for “a green revolution”. He wants carbon neutrality before 2060.

Sidenote: China wins my vote for “best video call background” so far. Xi is sitting in front of a painting of the Great Wall of China. Other leaders have to step it up.

Before introducing President Xi Jinping, China’s UN representative just complained that the country was being blamed for the pandemic.

“China resolutely rejects the baseless accusations,” he said.

Before we get to the next speaker, here is some snap analyis on Trump’s address from my colleague, Julian Borger:

Trump’s speech was a barnstorming seven minutes, less than half the time he was allotted, and in a tone just short of yelling. It was a speech designed for a virtual campaign rally and that is its destiny, to be played on repeat on Republican social media.

Erdoğan is jumping from Middle East crisis to Middle East crisis.

He is complaining about what he says is Turkey’s disproportionate role in Syria’s refugee crisis, then brings up conflicts in Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkeyhas started with a rather technical talk on bolstering multilateralism.

He is repeating his long-standing call to reform the UN Security Council.

By the way, if you feel like watching along, you can see the speeches here:

The #UNGA General Debate is underway – watch it live.

My colleague Julian Borger has some details on the famously-broken 15-minute time limit for speakers. Trump had a quickie, but expect a longer show by France’s Macron.

There is a 15 minute limit for leaders speeches at #UNGA today. According to UN sources, Trump has sent a 7-minute video. Macron has sent a 40-minute epic. Most leaders sticking to the 15-minute brief.

…and that was it for Trump. He abruptly stopped well short of his 15-minute time slot.

Trump’s speech is undoubtely a message to US voters.

He video from the White House is a list of what the US leader sees as his achievments over the past four years.

This seems to be a wholesale attack on China.

Trump has quickly switched to slamming the country for pollution.

The US president has begun his speech with an immediate slur against Beijing, accusing it of contributing to the pandemic.

“We must hold accountable the nation that unleashed this plague upon the world,” he says, callling the coronavirus the “invisible enemy” and “the China Virus”.

US Representative Kelly Craft says she has the “awesome honour” to introduce Donald Trump.

Bolsonaro praised Brazilian agribusiness and truckers – two key support groups.

“The man in the field never stopped,” he said, blaming disinformation for the deluge of bad news about fires in the Amazon and Pantanal wetlands region.

Diplomats feared this new Zoom-style virtual general assembly with pre-recorded messages would mean world leaders might use it as a televised opportunity to speak to their own people, rather than each other.

This may have proved true: Bolsonaro is talking about pension reform.

Bolsonaro gets stuck in with an attack on the media, who he accuses of having “politicised the virus” by spreading panic and calling for people to “stay home”.

The far-right president has repeatedly trivialised Covid-19 pandemic, and even contracted the virus himself in July.

Bolsonaro pre-recorded his speech last Friday, before he flew to Mato Grosso state and his plane was forced to abort its landing because of smoke from fires.

He is talking about Covid-19. “First of all, I want to lament every death that happened,” Bolsonaro said. That is a different tone to his comments earlier during the pandemic when asked about deaths, he replied with “so what?” and “I’m not a gravedigger.”

Uh oh… technical hitch at the first (hurdle) speech by Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

He appeared on screen for a few minutes to talk about the virus and then cut.

Bozkır also talking about gender equality.

Made me recall a depressing line from our main UN story today:

According to the latest running order, 50 men will address the assembly before the first woman gets a chance to speak, Slovakia’s Zuzana Čaputová.

The new president of the general assembly, Volkan Bozkır of Turkey, is now speaking about the merits of multilateralism and the dangers of the pandemic.

He just coughed… a bit worrying. But let’s hope it is just a dry mouth from speaking.

As we get going, you might want to check out some decent primers for the UN general assembly.

My colleague and diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, wrote a deeply-reported piece this past weekend looking at the pitfalls of “Zoom diplomacy”.

The French say you cannot truly build a relationship of trust until you have had lunch with them three times. Through video calls you can maintain existing relationships, you cannot cultivate new ones.

Related: Bye bye bilaterals: UN general assembly to embrace Zoom diplomacy

Related: Why the UN’s 75th general assembly could be worse than the world’s worst Zoom meeting

Related: What is the point of the UN general assembly?

Guterres ends dramatically by asking the world to “vanquish the five horsemen”.

So no small feat…

The secretary general is going on to talk about his call for a global ceasefire by the end of the year. He says there have been encouraging signs in Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria.

He then condemns countries acting selfishly during the pandemic, including those making vaccination “side deals exclusively for their own populations”.

Very odd to see the normally-full chamber, virtually empty. Country representatives are all in masks and sitting at a distance from each other.

Guterres makes some fairly targetted criticisms of world leaders, likely directly at Trump, saying that “populism and nationalism have failed” and that “we must be guided by science and tethered to reality”.

More concerning words from Guterres on the pandemic:

“For the first time in 30 years, poverty is rising.

UN Secretary General António Guterres, has begun his speech in extremely-2020 fashion by using some seriously apocalyptic analogies.

He said he has previously warned of the “four horsemen in our midst – four threats that endanger our common future”.

Greetings, and welcome to the United Nations general assembly live blog.

Oliver Holmes here, watching and digesting the often-vitriolic speeches by global leaders so you don’t have to.

Continue reading…

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