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World

APP
September 24, 2019

UN boss calls for dialogue to resolve heightened tensions in South Asia

World

APP
Tue, Sep 24, 2019
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an interview with Reuters in Lisbon, Portugal, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/Files

NEW YORK: The United Nations' Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, highlighted the escalating tensions in South Asia — a reference to the ongoing Indo-Pakistan confrontation over New Delhi's annexation of Kashmir — and called for dialogue to resolve the crisis in his opening remarks on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) 74th session.

"Tensions are elevated in South Asia, where differences need to be addressed through dialogue," the UN boss told world leaders attending the UNGA's high-level session as he assessed the international situation in his annual report on the organisation's work.

India had illegally abolished occupied Kashmir's special status on August 5, unleashing a brutal crackdown — comprising curfews, communications and Internet blackout, and arrests of thousands of people — and putting local political leaders under house arrest. The lockdown, as of reporting time, has entered its 51st consecutive day.

In his speech, however, Guterres noted that on the global landscape, he was observing persisting conflicts, a spread of terrorism, and the risk of a new arms race growing.

"Outside interference, often in violation of Security Council resolutions, makes peace processes more difficult", he said. "Many situations remain unresolved, Yemen to Libya to Afghanistan and beyond.

"A succession of unilateral actions threatens to torpedo a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. In Venezuela, four million people have fled the country — one of the largest displacements in the world," he added.

The UN boss underlined the "alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf", warning that the world could not afford the consequences of such a spat. The recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, in this regard, was totally unacceptable, he noted.

"In a context where a minor miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation, we must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint.

"I hope for a future in which all the countries of the region can live in a state of mutual respect and cooperation, without interference in the affairs of others — and I hope equally that it will still be possible to preserve the progress on nuclear nonproliferation represented by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," Guterres mentioned.