Traffic Changes, High Security as Diplomats Head to United Nations

Expect traffic changes, protests as world leaders descend on Manhattan for UN General Assembly

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCNewYork
    Police barricades shut down a portion of 2nd Avenue near the United Nations building.

    New Yorkers should prepare for gridlock, heightened security and plenty of protesters as the United Nations General Assembly gets underway.

    Dozens of world leaders, including President Barack Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be in town for the meetings, which are expected to be rife with controversy over the Middle East.

    The Coast Guard says it is enforcing security zones on the East River during the United Nations General Assembly.

    Among other things, it will restrict vessel traffic near the U.N. Headquarters.

    The added measures started Monday. They'll continue through Sept. 27.

    Police have already locked down the area surrounding the United Nations. Stone barricades line the streets. Expect First Avenue to be shut down near the UN. Certain side streets are subject to closures.

    Police will have periodic shut-downs as world leaders arrive, which will also affect traffic on the FDR. 

    Daily UN closures and freezes through Friday include the FDR below 63rd St., First Ave. from 42nd to 48th Sts., 43rd to 47th Sts. between First and Third Aves., and 42nd and 50th Sts. east of Seventh Ave, according to Gridlock Sam.

    Though many of the streets near the United Nations building are closed for the duration of the assembly, protesters will still be allowed to rally. Expected them almost every day this week.

    "I'm attending the Human Rights Conference," one woman told NBC New York. "It's supposed to be opposed to the UN Summit. I don't know what's going to go on -- how I'm going to get there."

    With the future of the Middle East in the balance, the United States and Europe are scrambling for a way to avoid a jarring showdown over whether to admit an independent Palestine as a new United Nations member. Instead, they are trying to guide Israel and the Palestinians back into the tough bargaining on a long-sought peace agreement.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has plans to ask for statehood and UN membership while the United States and Israel oppose it.
         
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met Sunday in New York and discussed the current trajectory, in which the Palestinian plan to gain statehood and membership at the U.N. would run headfirst into an American veto in the Security Council, and possible Israeli recriminations.      

    Yet there was no apparent and immediate solution to the many problems that have hindered Mideast peace efforts for months. Diplomats were working feverishly as part of an increasingly desperate effort to guide the two parties back into direct negotiations, but were tight-lipped on whether the slim chances for a breakthrough were improving.      

    "We are meeting to talk about the way forward,'' Clinton said as she shook hands with Ashton in a New York hotel. She declined to say if mediators were making progress.