UN General Assembly opens with packed agenda

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UN General Assembly opens with packed agenda

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Today at the opening of the UN’s 2012 General Assembly three topics are expected to dominate: Syria, Mali, and Israeli/Iranian relations.

Ahead of the opening the Iranian president fired the first shots before President Obama makes a lightning visit to New York today, taking barely 24 hours off the campaign trail despite the urgency of the business needing his and America’s attention.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the full Assembly later in the week, but his mere presence in New York has protesters out in force, and his declaration yesterday that Israel had no roots in the region, and would be a short-lived historical hiccup has done nothing to calm nerves.

Syria is also a hot subject with no immediate solution to the conflict in sight. Yet Germany’s foreign minister warned action taken too hastily could backfire.

“I wouldn’t give up the substance of the 6 point plan as long as we do not see a better alternative. I’m frustrated, like you are, about the situation. But once again, what is the alternative? We have to prevent this conflict in Syria set on fire one country after another,” said Guido Westerwelle.

Despite the loss of life and the heavy daily fighting now taking place in Damascus and elsewhere the UN’s special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned yesterday there would be no short-term solution to the crisis.

The General Assembly is also expected to take an initiative on Mali, possibly endorsing African Union forces to intervene to restore the north to government control, and expel islamic extremists.