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Security gridlock as New York prepares for UN World Summit

Radio Australia | September 14 2005

New York has gone into security gridlock with 170 world leaders descending on the city for this week's UN World Summit and general assembly which marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the world body.

"This is a general assembly like no other," said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is deploying 4,000 officers for what will be the city's largest security operation since last year's Republican National Convention.

The massive police contingent will complement the Secret Service details assigned as personal security to each of the heads of state and government attending the September 14-16 summit and the General Assembly which lasts until September 28.

Specialised counter-terrorist units are also being deployed, with memories still fresh of the attacks on the London transport system ahead of the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Scotland.

"We have put in additional security programs throughout the city because we can't just focus all of our resources in Manhattan around the UN," Commissioner Kelly said.

"We have to be concerned about something happening of an untoward nature on a large scale in other parts of the city," he added.

Street closures are already in force around some landmark hotels in midtown Manhattan as early presidential arrivals held bilateral meetings ahead of the summit opening.

The tightest security was within a perimeter thrown around the UN's riverside headquarters in eastern Manhattan.

The East River will be subject to temporary closures during the summit, with the US Coast Guard patrolling the waterway in coordination with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Special air space restrictions, including an 11 kilometre no-fly zone will also be in force.

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has already arrived in New York and participated in other meetings.


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