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World

AFP
January 4, 2017
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Trump speaks with new UN chief Guterres

Trump speaks with new UN chief Guterres

WASHINGTON: US President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with newly installed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, amid expectations his administration will take a tougher line with the global body.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed the call but gave no information on what the two spoke about, only noting that the new administration will press for reforms at the United Nations.

The Trump administration, which takes office on January 20, will work "to make sure the United States, which (supplies) a large portion of the UN budget, demands some reform and change so that our tax dollars are used... efficiently and effectively."

Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, took over as UN Secretary General from South Korea´s Ban Ki-moon on January 1.

In his first day of work Tuesday, he warned that the world body faces "very challenging times" and asked for support for an overhaul to make it better able to respond.

"We need to be able to recognize our shortcomings, our failures," he said to UN staff and diplomats.

He called for strong engagement to change, reform and improve the international body and "get rid of the straightjacket of bureaucracy."

Last week Trump blasted the UN as a cause of, and not solution to, global problems.

"The UN had such tremendous potential. (It is) not living up to its potential," Trump told reporters at his Florida holiday resort Mar-a-Lago.

"When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don´t. They cause problems."

Trump was also strongly critical of the UN Security Council´s December 23 vote for a measure calling on Israel to halt settlement activities in Palestinian territory.

For the first time US President Barack Obama´s administration opted not to veto such a resolution, a shift in US policy toward its Israeli ally that Trump has vowed to reverse.

"As to the UN, things will be different after Jan 20th," Trump said on Twitter after the Security Council vote.

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