theSkimm's Guide to

THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

THE STORY

World leaders are getting together for a family reunion. Think: Fake hellos, lots of tension, polite nodding, and one annoying relative who keeps asking what's wrong with you.

WHAT’S THE OCCASION?

The 70th session of the UN General Assembly. Officially, it’s that time of year when many heads of state from the 193 member nations shut themselves in a room together for the “general debate.” Unofficially, it’s that time when leaders get a soapbox vent and maybe throw some shade.

WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

The EU’s migrant and refugee crisis...as in hundreds of thousands of people are coming to the EU because they’re desperate to get away from war (in places like Syria) and poverty (in places like Gambia). Psst...here’s your Skimm.

ISIS...as in the world’s canker sore is still wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria, and the US-led coalition is pretty much a fail. Now, it looks like Russia and Iran are getting more involved in Syria. Comforting.

Climate Change...as in Mother Earth is a hot topic ahead of a major climate change summit in Paris later this year.

Iran...as in the deal that’s finally a done deal. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s celebrating.

WHO DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Pretty much every major world leader RSVP’d ‘yes’ to this event. And pretty much all the headliners are speaking on Monday. Here are the highlights…

Pope Francis...the one in white. He’s visiting the US for the first time, and he’ll be pulling over the popemobile at the UN for the first time. BFD. He’ll be talking on Friday about his new pet issue: climate change..

US President Obama...the one who’s the leader of free world. He might try to re-up support for the US-led coalition against ISIS.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (pronounced ‘she gin-ping’)...the one keeping up appearances. He’ll be pretending his country’s economy is just fiiiiiine, thank you very much. He might also have to talk about ‘cybersecurity,’ otherwise known as how the US has blamed China for massive cyberattacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin...the one who skipped last year’s meeting. That’s because everyone was mad at him for saying ‘mine’ to Crimea and meddling in eastern Ukraine. Everyone’s still mad at him, especially since now he’s sticking his big fur hat in Syria’s civil war. Expect drama when he walks in.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (pronounced ‘roh-hah-knee’)...the one that’s not saying ‘death to America.’ That’s the other guy. Rouhani’s more moderate than other Iranian leaders, but he’s also been called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” He’s spent the last year hammering out a nuclear deal with the US & friends, so this will be his victory lap.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu...the one who’s really excited about the Iran nuclear deal. On Opposite Day. Earlier this year, he spoke to Congress about how much he hates it. Bibi will likely be giving a version of that speech at the UN. Which is super awkward for Israel’s BFF, the US, since Obama considers the deal one of his top foreign policy achievements.

Cuban President Raul Castro...as in the debutante at the ball. After more than 50 years of freezing each other out (thanks in no small part to Raul’s bro Fidel) the US and Cuba are finally having relations again. Which means Raul finally got a direct flight, and will be visiting the US for his first time as prez.

theSKIMM

There are the meetings you hear about. And then there are the meetings you don’t. Sometimes it's the side-convos off the agenda that can get the most done.

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