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UN chief hopes for ‘constructive’ message from Trump to world leaders

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By Agence France-Presse

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday he is hoping for a constructive message from US President Donald Trump when he makes his first address to world leaders at the United Nations next week.

Trump will speak at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, taking to the podium of the global institution that he once disparaged as a “club” for “people to have a good time.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a statement during a visit to a UN School in the northern Gaza Strip on August 30, 2017. (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a statement during a visit to a UN School in the northern Gaza Strip on August 30, 2017.
(AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Guterres told a news conference ahead of the annual UN gathering that he had spared no effort to develop strong ties with the new US administration over the past eight months.

“All the efforts I have been making until now are in the direction of trying to create conditions for the relationship between the United States and the United Nations to be a constructive relationship,” Guterres said.

“I hope that will also be the message of President Trump and I hope that if that is the message that will be conveyed, that that message will be well received.”

Some 130 world leaders are attending this year’s gathering, but the spotlight will be firmly on Trump.

The United States is the UN’s number one financial contributor, paying 28.5 per cent of the $7.3 billion peacekeeping budget and 22 per cent of the core budget of $5.4 billion.

The Trump administration has threatened deep cuts to US funding to the world body, while US Ambassador Nikki Haley was a driving force behind a $600 million cut to the UN peacekeeping budget this year.

Trump on Monday will host a meeting of world leaders on reforming the United Nations and to support Guterres’ plan for a more effective UN response to global crises.

The US president has described the United Nations as an “underperformer” but stressed that it has “huge potential” to address the long list of world crises that will be at the center of this year’s UN debate.

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