US President Donald Trump and others attend a meeting on United Nations Reform at the UN headquarters on September 18, 2017 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
It’s been dubbed the Super Bowl of diplomacy, the Oscars of world statesmanship: the UN General Assembly kicks off on Tuesday with US President Donald Trump in the spotlight as he makes his first address to the 193-nation body.
Here are a few fun facts about this year’s gathering:
There are 90 heads of state, five vice presidents, 39 heads of government, three deputy prime ministers and 52 ministers.
At the rostrum for the first time will be Trump as well as France’s Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has been in the top job for nine months.
Gambia’s Adama Barrow is making his international debut after trouncing long-serving leader Yahya Jammeh.
Among the heavy hitters are Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
North Korea gets front-row seat
As luck would have it, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho is getting a front-row seat at this year’s General Assembly, sitting to the right of the rostrum.
Every year, the name of a country gets pulled out of a box to determine the alphabetical order of the seating arrangement.
This year’s winner was the Czech Republic, which means the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as North Korea is formally known, got the second seat in the front row.
Beef and potatoes for lunch
Are UN cooks pandering to Trump’s love of meat? One glance at the menu for the state luncheon on Tuesday and the question does comes to mind.
World leaders will enjoy pan-seared Japanese Wagyu beef tenderloin, Yukon gold potatoes, roasted asparagus and baby carrots.
The starters include roasted chanterelle mushrooms, haricots and grilled stone fruit served on a bed of lettuce.
The power lunch in a UN meeting hall will be crowned with a selection of chocolate mousses, fresh raspberries and passion fruit coulis.
A French Sancerre wine will be served at the start, followed by a California Cabernet Sauvignon and — in a nod to Guterres’ native land — there will be a 40-year-old porto from Portugal on offer at the end.
Trump will be seated next to Guterres during the luncheon.
Also at the table will be Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Swiss President Doris Leuthard, Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno, South Korea’s Moon Jae-In, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Recep Tayyip Erdogan from Turkey, Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania and Alpha Conde of Guinea.
New York traffic mayhem
For New Yorkers, the annual week-long UN General Assembly means traffic chaos as thousands of police are deployed and streets are shut down to make way for presidential motorcades.
Hotel prices are also at a premium.
Trump is staying at his Manhattan Trump Tower, which means that area is on lockdown.