INTERNATIONAL

Guterres working to make UN great again: Trump

United Nations, May 19: US President Donald Trump, who has had an adversarial relationship with the world body, surprisingly showered praise on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying he was “working hard to ‘Make the UN Great Again’”.

The unexpected kudos in his tweet came after their meeting on Friday, which played off his election slogan of “Make America Great Again” and appeared to show a newly found appreciation that the world body could help Washington by dealing with conflicts after several developments that have highlighted the rift between Trump’s US and the UN. Trump’s praise of Guterres was centred on monetary savings for the US as he added in his tweet, “When the UN does more to solve conflicts around the world, it means the US has less to do and we save money.”

The White House said that two of those issues — Iran and Syria — figured in the talks between Trump and Guterres. A UN statement said: “The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation for the continued US engagement in the work of the UN.” Trump also praised Haley, saying in the same tweet that she “is doing a fantastic job!” The White House said they also discussed UN reform — which is focused on saving even more — and “the President reiterated his support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN”. Another topic in their discussions was North Korea, where Trump is hoping for a breakthrough in his upcoming talks with that nation’s leader Kim Jong-un leading to Pyongyang’s denuclearisation. The UN statement said that they discussed the “broader situation” in the Middle East, without indicating if this week’s Palestinian protests in Gaza during which more than 60 people were killed in firings by Israeli forces came up. (IANS)