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UN General Debate Postponed


The annual gathering of heads of state at the United Nations that was postponed after last month's terrorist attacks has been rescheduled for November.

The so-called "general debate," a 10-day session in which world leaders make speeches and hold face to face meetings, had been scheduled to open on September 24. But U.N. officials decided to postpone it so as not to put added stress on New York police officers who provide the bulk of the security protection for the world leaders. The police have been busy dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Now, the general debate has been rescheduled for a seven-day period from November 10-16.

General Assembly President Han Seung-soo of South Korea pointed out that the rescheduled session will be three days shorter than usual and he urged something that some heads of state often have trouble doing. "I urge speakers to limit their statements in the general debate to 15 minutes so that all the speakers can be accommodated within these seven days," he said. "I earnestly ask your cooperation in this regard so we can hold the general debate as scheduled."

Originally, more than 70 heads of state, including U.S. President George W. Bush, had been scheduled to speak. A U.N. spokesman says he expects the number of heads of state at the rescheduled session to drop but could not offer an immediate estimate.

The rescheduling of the annual U.N. session is seen as an important signal that New York City is returning to normal. In his appearance before the General Assembly on Monday, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said he wants the world to know that the city is "back in business."