Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to address the 70th United Nations General Assembly in September, joining over 100 world leaders at the landmark gathering, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. If Putin follows through with the plans, it would be his first UNGA address since 2005, when he addressed the 60th General Assembly.
“It is quite likely that such a trip and an address will take place,” said Peskov, speaking of Putin’s planned visit. Tensions between Russia and the West have escalated over the last year over the conflict in Ukraine. Putin was criticized directly by some Western leaders at the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, in November. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper even told Putin to “get out of Ukraine” after reluctantly shaking his hand. Putin left the G20 meeting abruptly, but his office said it had nothing to do with being criticized.
Farhan Haq, the deputy of the official representative of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Putin would receive “a warm welcome,” and added he hoped “the level of participation … be as high as possible.”
Pope Francis also plans to attend the General Assembly for the first time on Sept. 25, after addressing Congress in Washington, D.C. He will meet with the president of the General Assembly and with U.N. staffers, according to WCAU NBC 10 in Philadelphia. He will then travel to the City of Brotherly Love.
Major speakers last year included U.S. President Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Nerendra Modi and British Prime Minister David Cameron.