UNITED NATIONS – India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly here, in New York, is not till September 23rd, but she’s made good use of her time since she landed on Monday, with a series of meetings on the sidelines with world leaders, and her American and Japanese counterparts, Rex Tillerson and Taro Kono, apart from attending a meeting on UN reforms, hosted by the US and chaired by president Donald Trump.
Swaraj, who was received at the airport by the Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna, and India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin, has only pleasantries and friendly exchanges scheduled this week before she flies home to India on Sunday, as an interaction with her Pakistan counterpart, foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, has been ruled out.
The prime focus of the UN this year is on the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and the horrific ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, with over 400,000 Rohingya Muslims forced to emigrate to neighboring Bangladesh, as atrocities by the civil government of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her brutal military rise to new levels of genocide.
In her meetings with Tillerson and Kono, North Korea and China featured prominently, as the trio lambasted the former and discussed issues that dealt with weapons technology proliferation – with India clearly insinuating that Pakistan was to blame for nuclear weapons that North Korea now is terrorizing the world with – and maritime security.
“I think I am giving you enough material to try to figure out what we are talking about,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry, told the media, on the North Korea-Pakistan nexus.
Japan has installed a missile shield to protect against a possible North Korea attack, after a missile launched on Friday flew over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
India also came down hard on China’s’ One Belt, One Road’ project, which includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“On connectivity initiatives, the importance of basing them on universally recognized international norms, prudent financing and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was underlined,” a statement released after the meeting, read.
Swaraj also held a series of meetings with leader and ministers of other countries, including with Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and the Bolivian foreign minister Fernando Huanacuni Mamani.
Swaraj also met with Ivanka Trump, an Adviser to President Trump, on Monday. They discussed women empowerment and the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad, in November, entitled ‘Women First, Prosperity for All’, to which the First Daughter will lead a US delegation.
Ivanka Trump inspired the World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs, which has a target of making $1 billion for women entrepreneurs.
“I have long respected India’s accomplished and charismatic Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and it was an honor to meet her today,” Ivanka Trump tweeted after her meeting with Swaraj, adding: “We had a great discussion on women entrepreneurship, the upcoming GES2017 and workforce development in the US and India.”
With leaders of over 100 countries converging with their entourage in New York to deliver a speech to for the 193-member body UN General Assembly, it’s a nightmare for traffic all over the city this time of the year, but President’s Trump’s vehement declaration to “totally destroy” North Korea if it doesn’t denuclearize, would have stopped traffic anyway, if motorists were able to listen to his debut speech, delivered on Tuesday.
There were exclamations and stunned looks inside the hall when Trump issued his warning to “Rocket Man”, as he termed North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and warned him to desist from his “hostile behavior”.
“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea,” said Trump, adding later in his speech, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
Trump also seemed to target his ire at China when he said: “It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.”
Trump’s 41-minute speech at the UN also slammed Iran – whom he termed as an ““economically depleted rogue state” which indulges in violence and exports it too, as well as Venezuela, and Cuba. Trump had already warned Venezuela earlier this year that the US might intervene militarily.
Earlier, at a meet organized to talk about UN reforms, where Swaraj was present, Trump blasted the faulty bureaucracy and mismanagement which has led to widespread discontent among member states.
“The United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process,” Trump said.
“I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world,” Trump said.
The United States is the biggest UN contributor, providing 22 percent of its $5.4 billion budget and 28.5 percent of its $7.3 billion peacekeeping budget.