Friday, November 9, 2001

NEW YORK The bombings in Afghanistan and the international campaign against terror will dominate this year’s U.N. general debate, which is expected to draw more than three dozen world leaders to the United Nations starting tomorrow.
The weeklong debate opens tomorrow morning with President Bush’s first address before the United Nations. The annual event, which was postponed from mid-September after the attacks on the World Trade Center, will be conducted under unprecedented security precautions.
Terror-mastermind Osama bin Laden lashed out at the United Nations last weekend, and attacked as “un-Islamic” Arab leaders who took their issues to the world body, which he called a “tool” of U.S. interests.
Nearly 50 president and prime ministers are confirmed to attend this year. At least 100 foreign ministers, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, will be on hand for all or part of the debate.
The speeches from the podium are only one aspect of the diplomatic convocation, which will comprise thousands of bilateral meetings, regional conferences and focused but informal “pull-asides” for leaders to exchange views on specific subjects. Mr. Bush will be in New York for a little more than 30 hours. In addition to his speech to the General Assembly, the highlight will be a private meeting and working dinner with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to discuss regional stability and an assistance package for Washington’s newest ally.
In addition, Mr. Bush is slated to have brief meetings tomorrow with President Didier Ratfiraka of Madagascar, Mongolian Prime Minister Nambariin Enkhbayar, Croatian President Stipe Mesic, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, Congolese President Joseph Kabila and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
On Sunday morning, the president will sit down briefly with Colombian and Argentine leaders, and then take lunch with New York Gov. George E. Pataki.
The State Department will be here in force over the week, as well.
Afghanistan as both a humanitarian emergency and threat to regional stability will absorb many foreign ministers this week. On Monday morning, the so-called “6+2 group” composed of neighbors Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China plus Russia and the United States will sit down with U.N. Special Envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi to address the regional instability and start preparations for a post-Taliban transitional administration.
Participants caution against high expectations.
Later that morning, the Security Council foreign ministers will discuss counterterrorism in a scripted debate. Last month, the council passed a sweeping anti-terrorism resolution that would bind every nation to cut off the logistical and financial support for terrorist cells named by the organization.
Mr. Annan, who also will speak tomorrow morning, traditionally tries to buttonhole visiting leaders whose nations are in conflict.
“After Sepember 11, all nations are rethinking their security policies and the secretary-general has sensed a keener interest on the part of all countries to work more closely together,” said his spokesman, Fred Eckhard.
But the long-standing conflicts may prove resistant to Mr. Annan’s Nobel-winning charm.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be in New York for several days this weekend, but Mr. Bush has refused to meet with him, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is sending Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in his place.
White House officials say Mr. Bush and Mr. Arafat, who have never met, might shake hands on the sidelines if they have contact at all.
The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders may sit down together, although even their own publicists are downplaying the possibility.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan’s Gen. Musharraf will be here at the same time, but Mr. Vajpayee has formally rejected a meeting with his counterpart to discuss renewed hostilities in Kashmir.
The U.N. Department of Disarmament Affairs is hosting a two-day conference on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which will enter into force when it is ratified by the 13 remaining states that have nuclear power or nuclear weapons.
The United States, which has signed but not ratified the treaty and has said in recent weeks that it will not, is not expected to be one of the 79 speakers at the event, Jayantha Dhanapala, undersecretary-general for disarmament, said yesterday.

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