NEW DELHI: The 193-member General Assembly voted on Friday on a decision to allow Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address world leaders at its session next week. The decision was adopted with 101 votes in favour, seven against, including Belarus, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Syria, and 19 abstentions. India was among the 101 nations that voted in favour of the draft decision.
Official sources, however, said both were only procedural votes and that India’s vote should not be seen as any shift in its position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Zelenskyy has in any case earlier addressed the Council virtually.
The document that was approved expresses concern that leaders of “peace-loving” UN sovereign nations can’t participate in person “for reasons beyond their control owing to ongoing foreign invasion, aggression, military hostilities that do not allow safe departure from and return to their countries, or the need to discharge their national defence and security duties and functions”. The document permits Zelenskyy to submit a pre-recorded statement to be played in the General Assembly Hall. It stresses that this will not set a precedent for future high-level assembly meetings.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the annual meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly was all virtual in 2020 and hybrid in 2021. But this year, the assembly decided that all speeches must be in person.

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