Zatlers sets weeklong visit to U.S., U.N.

President Valdis Zatlers will spend Sept. 20-28 in the United States attending the United Nations, meeting with world leaders and spending some time with the Latvian community in New York. Among highlights of his visit will be speeches at Columbia University and to the U.N. General Assembly, according to the president’s press office.

After arriving in the U.S., the president is scheduled to attend the Sept. 21 American premiere of the documentary film The Soviet Story. The screening is set for 11 a.m. in the Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave., New York. A reception with the film’s director, Edvīns Šnore, as well as with Zatlers, will follow the screening. Admission is USD 20 and can be bought at the door.

The work week begins with a round table discussion, “Africa’s Development Needs,” led by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Finnish President Tarja Halonen at the United Nations. The program begins at 9 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall of U.N. Headquarters, First Avenue at 46th Street, New York.

Later in the day, Zatlers will discuss Latvia’s views on global affairs at the Clinton Global Initiative in 1501 International Affairs Building, The European Institute of Columbia University, 420 West 118th St., New York. The program begins at 5 p.m .. A reception at the “Latvia Today” photography exhibition on the fourth floor of IAB will follow the event. The president also is expected to participate in a discussion with teachers and students about the situation in Georgia.

The opening of the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly is on the president’s agenda for Tuesday, Sept. 23. During the day, Zatlers also is to meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and will attend an event honoring soldiers who have died in Iraq. Latvia has lost three troops in Iraq. In the evening, Zatlers is to attend a dinner for world leaders hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, Zatlers takes the podium to address the U.N. General Assembly. Last year, the president discussed the U.N.‘s peacekeeping role, focusing especially on the question of Kosovo. Also on the calendar for Zatlers are meetings with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.

In the evening, Zatlers will participate in the opening of this year’s Clinton Global Initiative, a non-partisan effort started in 2005 by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The schedule for Thursday, Sept. 25, includes participation in the U.S. plenary “Millennium Development Goals” and a round table discussion on environmental sustainability. Zatlers also is to meet with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and visit the NASDAQ stock market.

As the work weeks winds down, Zatlers on Sept. 26 has other meetings scheduled with world leaders, including Serbian President Boris Tadić and President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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