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PM Modi, Imran Khan to Battle it Out at UNGA Today With Kashmir Issue on Cards

This will be Narendra Modi’s first address to world leaders at the UN after winning a second term as Prime Minister in a resounding electoral victory with a thumping majority.


Updated:September 27, 2019, 3:22 PM IST
PM Modi, Imran Khan to Battle it Out at UNGA Today With Kashmir Issue on Cards
File photo of Imran Khan and Narendra Modi

Amid heightened tensions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan are likely to face each other at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Friday.

According to an updated list of speakers for the General Debate of the 74th session of the UNGA, Modi will address the high-level session on the morning of 27 September while, Khan is likely to address the UNGA session shortly after Modi's address. The proceedings are slated to begin at 9 am local time in New York (6.30 pm IST) and Modi will speak between 8.30 pm and 9.00 pm IST.

This will be Modi’s first address to world leaders at the UN after winning a second term as Prime Minister in a resounding electoral victory with a thumping majority. Imran Khan is expected to deliver his speech shortly after Modi and is likely to raise the Kashmir issue once again while PM Modi is expected to focus on peace and development in the region.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have been simmering and threatening to erupt into open conflict after New Delhi stripped Jammu and Kashmir it controls of its statehood and split it into two union territories.

The key note by the leaders also comes just a day before Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi boycotted S Jaishankar's opening statement at the meeting of the SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers on Thursday, with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) saying the country will not engage with India "until and unless" it lifts the "siege" in Kashmir.

Qureshi "refuses to attend Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar's statement at the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers," PTI tweeted. The meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session started in his absence.

Jaishankar was among the first ministers to arrive for the SAARC Ministerial Meeting. He was in the meeting for over 45 minutes and then left.

He didn't make a comment when asked about Qureshi boycotting the SAARC meeting. The Pakistani foreign minister arrived only after Jaishankar delivered his statement and left the room.

When asked about being late for the meeting, Qureshi said he doesn't want to sit with the Indian minister as a protest over Kashmir.

Jaishankar said, "No" when asked to comment on the absence of his Pakistani counterpart during his opening statement.

Both PM Modi and Imran Khan recently met US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UNGA. Earlier this week, on Sunday, Modi addressed a rally in Texas's Houston along with President Donald Trump in which he had defended the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

This year, the initial speakers' list indicates that about 112 Heads of State, nearly 48 Heads of Government and over 30 Foreign Ministers will arrive in New York to address the General Debate. Climate change is expected to be at forefront of this year’s United Nations General Assembly, with the UN’s Youth Climate Summit kicking off the annual gathering of heads of state on Saturday and the Climate Action Summit on Monday.

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