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UN's General Assembly expected to bring hightened security, traffic jams next week, officials say

People walk past flags outside the United Nations

People walk past flags outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City in May. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/ANGELA WEISS

The annual United Nations General Assembly returns next week to New York City after being absent last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, bringing back with it a major security operation and an East Side traffic nightmare, city officials said Friday.

Some low-level diplomatic meetings have already been under way at the UN in preparation for the arrival of world leaders beginning Monday. President Joe Biden is expected to address the General Assembly on Tuesday.

The NYPD will have its usual layered approach to security in place to help guard the leaders and foreign ministers from 132 nations, a number that is less than past meetings in which up to 200 countries attended.

In addition to city police, officials from the U.S. Secret Service, the lead agency handling security, and the diplomatic security service of the U.S. State Department will be involved.

"We know there are no credible specific threats, we have said that a number of times," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller at a news briefing on security preparations. "We are always going into [meetings] with a layered approach that there will be unknown threats, due to the international symbolism of the event, the amount of media coverage and the attention around it."

Miller noted that diplomatic officials from Afghanistan, either the government in exile or the new Taliban regime, will not be present. "There is no seat for them at the United Nations, given their current status," Miller said of the Taliban.

Miller, who overseas NYPD intelligence and media operations, said with dozens of world leaders attending, some are considered "high" [security] threats, some of whom will be the object of over 30 protests already on police radar.

"Putting that all together, you will see a lot of security, you will see a lot of motorcades, you are going to see a lot of street closures."

There is going to be a lot of traffic as well, with street closures planned for a several block area around the UN headquarters.

"Starting, Monday, September 20, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. there will be multiple street closures and checkpoints around the UN area," said NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster of an area that will encompass First Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

"We are asking the public, if you have to be in that area to take alternate routes of traffic," said Royster, adding that deliveries in the area should be scheduled if possible outside the traffic closure period.

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