Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday attended the opening session of the high-level general debate of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.

The welcome reception was hosted by UN Secretary General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres.

The reception was held for the heads of states and governments participating in the UNGA, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

During the reception, the prime minister interacted with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jecinda Ardern.

On the sidelines of the event, Shehbaz also met French President Emmanuel Macron. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar accompanied the prime minister.

UN chief warns of ‘winter of discontent’

In his opening remarks at the summit today, UN chief Guterres issued a stark warning of an upcoming “winter of global discontent” from rising prices, a warming planet, and deadly conflicts.

“Trust is crumbling, inequalities are exploding, our planet is burning. People are hurting — with the most vulnerable suffering the most.”

With global temperatures rising and a chunk of Pakistan the size of the United Kingdom recently under water, Guterres lashed out at fossil fuel companies and the “suicidal war against nature.”

“Let’s tell it like it is — our world is addicted to fossil fuels. It’s time for an intervention. We need to hold fossil fuel companies and their enablers to account,” Guterres said.

He called on all developed economies to tax profits from fossil fuels and dedicate the funds both to compensate for damage from climate change and to help people struggling with high prices.

“Polluters must pay,” the UN chief added.

PM’s visit to New York

During his visit, PM Shehbaz will hold bilateral meetings with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Spanish President Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon, and Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi.

In the afternoon, the prime minister will visit the Times Centre for an interview with the New York Times’ editorial board.

Later, he will be called on by US Special Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry.

On September 21, Shehbaz will meet International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank President David Malpass and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Besides meeting with the UNGA president, the prime minister will also attend a dinner reception to be hosted by US President Joe Biden.

Meetings with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, UNSG Guterres, Chinese President Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will also be a part of PM Shehbaz’s engagements.

On September 23, the prime minister will address the UNGA session, where his speech will focus on challenges faced by Pakistan in wake of the recent climate-induced catastrophic floods in the country.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb will accompany the prime minister during his trip alongside other senior officials.

This year’s general assembly is particularly significant because this will be the first in-person summit of world leaders at the UN since 2019. The 2020 and 2021 sessions were converted into virtual meetings because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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