NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – President Barack Obama arrived in New York Sunday for the United Nations General Assembly, this week’s gathering of world leaders.
The President’s agenda includes remarks at the opening session Monday and hosting a summit on countering ISIL and violent extremism. Obama will also meet with foreign leaders one-on-one, including Cuban leader Raul Castro on Tuesday.
On Sunday President Obama spoke to the U.N. about sustainable development goals. Among the issues, women’s rights.
“Development is threatened by old attitudes, especially those that denies rights to women,” the President said. “In too many places girls are less likely to be in school then boys, globally, women are less likely to have a job then men and women are more likely to be in poverty. One of the best indicators of how a country will succeed is how its country treats its women.”
The President committed the U.S. to a new plan for eliminating poverty and hunger around the world. He told the world leaders “tens of millions of children are still not in school, hundred and millions of people have no clean water, toilets. We have so much work to do”
Obama says the goals of the 15-year plan are ambitious, but he says they can be achieved if governments work together.
On Tuesday Obama is expected to meet with Castro, their second face-to-face meeting since the U.S. and Cuba began restoring diplomatic relations late last year.
On Friday Castro spoke to the UN and said reopening the U.S. Embassy was an important step forward. But, he said, more needs to be done to improve the Cuban economy, demanding the economic embargo be removed.
“The economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba persists, bringing damages and hardships on the Cuban people,” Castro told the world leaders. “It stands as the main obstacle to our country’s economic development.”
In a statement Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said “no amount of meeting will change the reality in Cuba: Raul Castro has not unclenched his fist and his regime continues to be as repressive today than it was when President Obama began this misguided normalization process. Further legitimizing Castro and his communist regime only serves to undermine the cause of freedom for the Cuban people. Obama’s latest concession to Castro is possibly abstaining from the embargo vote. I recently spoke with US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and urged her to vote against the resolution. While pro-democracy leaders in all parts of Cuba continue to be arrested and El Sexto, an artist languishing in the dictatorship’s gulags, is conducting a hunger strike, President Obama sees fit to shake the bloodied hand of one of the world’s most ruthless dictators. It is truly shameful that instead of championing the cause of everyday Cubans, the white house has chosen to sell out to the dictatorship yet again.”