The United Nations General Assembly in New York opened for in-person debate for the first time in nearly two years on Tuesday, with US President Joe Biden warning of a “decisive decade.” Biden called for greater international cooperation on climate change, global conflict, and tackling the coronavirus pandemic. “Our shared grief is a poignant reminder that our collective future will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity and to act together,” he said. “This is the clear and urgent choice that we face here at the dawning of what will be a decisive decade for our world, a decade that will quite literally determine our futures.” He also called on nations to take the necessary steps to prevent the next pandemic. “Or will we fail to harness the tools at our disposal as more virulent variants take hold?” he said.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro spoke ahead of Biden, while Chinese President Xi Jinping who is set to deliver a video address. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Afghanistan will be the top two priorities for the sessions, which runs until Monday. More than 100 heads of state and diplomats are also set to discuss the humanitarian crises in Yemen and Ethiopia’s Tigray region. This is the first time that the delegates are meeting face-to-face since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Several high-profile meetings are being held on the sidelines of the event. This includes a pandemic response summit hosted by President Biden and an EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting to address the diplomatic crisis between France, the US, and Australia.

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