UN chief Antonio Guterres said Wednesday he has been trying to have a “constructive relationship” with US President Donald Trump, hoping that will be his message 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.”
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,” the UN secretary-general 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 is conducting a review of the UN’s 16 far-flung peacekeeping operations, which cost nearly $8 billion a year, and cutting their costs and making them more effective is a top priority for the current US ambassador, Nikki Haley.
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.
Guterres is due to meet Trump on the sidelines of the General Assembly debate for talks expected to focus on the North Korea crisis, the violence in Myanmar, Iran and climate change.