Guterres asks US leadership to address global challenges

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

United States, (Asian independent) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the US leadership to address global challenges such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

“Cooperation between the UN and the US is indeed critical for our common work. The commitment and contribution of the US are essential to resolve the many serious global challenges we face — starting with the Covid-19 pandemic,” Guterres told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a virtual meeting on Monday.

To end the pandemic everywhere, there is a need for a global vaccination plan, and the US can play a very important role in this, Xinhua news agency quoted the UN chief as saying.

“I have proposed that the G20 should establish an emergency task force to develop and coordinate such a plan. But there is no way that this can work without an effective American leadership.”

Guterres also asked the US to play a leading role in global climate action.

“We are working closely together to build a global coalition for net-zero emissions by mid-century, which has been a top priority for us in the UN for 2021, and to mobilise an immediate quantum leap in adaptation, and in finance to support developing countries.

“Adaptation cannot be the forgotten part of climate action and we very much count on US leadership in this regard.”

He also noted that both the UN and the US recognise the importance of investing in a sustainable, inclusive recovery from the pandemic toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

Guterres stressed the need for a surge in diplomacy for peace as conflict and violence cause enormous global suffering, threatening famine in at least six countries.

“We will work to reach lasting agreements in Afghanistan and Yemen, to consolidate our efforts in Libya, to achieve tangible progress through the political dialogue in Syria that has not yet happened, and to restart the Middle East peace process.

“We need a new movement for peace, from war zones to people’s homes, where women and girls are facing an epidemic of gender-based violence,” he said.

The UN chief also called for efforts to end systemic racism, discrimination and persecution, and to protect the rights of women, the marginalised, and minorities of all kinds.

Blinken, in his opening remarks, said the UN is the anchor of the multilateral system, which is vitally important to the US.

“We need to find ways to cooperate, to coordinate, to tackle problems together. And, of course, the United Nations is where countries come together to work on common challenges. So we have a profound stake in its success, in engaging in the UN,” he said.

After the opening remarks, Blinken and Guterres spoke behind closed doors.

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