The event is part of an annual meeting of the global body, but the U.N. General Assembly agreed earlier this month to have member nations submit prerecorded video statements in acknowledgement of the health risks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision noted that all “Heads of State, Vice-Presidents, Crown Princes or Princesses, Heads of Government, Ministers or Vice-Ministers” are being asked to not to attend the event in person, and to instead send a representative in order to prevent massive groups of officials, security and staff congregating together.
“World leaders cannot come to New York because they cannot come simply as individuals,” Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, president of the General Assembly, said last month. “A president doesn’t travel alone, leaders don’t travel alone.”
Adding that it would be “impossible” to bring thousands of people into New York City during a health crisis.
But President Trump is rejecting the call from the General Assembly and planning on attending in person.
“We’re hoping that President Trump will actually be speaking in person in the General Assembly,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft said during an interview with Meridian International,Reuters reported Thursday. “He will be the only world leader to be speaking in person.”
“Obviously we’re going to be focused on human rights issues, on transparency, on accountability,” she said.
Over 17 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and nearly 670,000 others have died from the disease.
New York City, once the epicenter of the pandemic, has since flattened the curve and infection rates in the city remain low. But cases are continuing to rise in other parts of the U.S., which remains the No. 1 country in the world for infection rates with nearly 4.5 million cases and over 150,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Countries in Europe are starting to see new rises in coronavirus cases, with some health officials worried that the second phase of the pandemic is starting up in those nations.
Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa are also continuing to see alarming rates of daily coronavirus cases.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.