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India to back UN Secretary General Guterres's bid for second five-year term

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Photo: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)Premium
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Photo: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)

  • Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who held the job during 1995-2002, announced in January that he would seek re-election for the UN’s top job. He took office as the ninth UN Secretary General in January 2017, succeeding South Korea’s Ban ki-Moon

NEW DELHI: India will back UN Secretary General Antonnio Guterres's bid for a second five-year term in office starting January 2022.

Visiting Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar conveyed this to Guterres during a meeting overnight Wednesday in New York. Jaishankar is in the US on a five-day visit and New York is the first leg of the two-stop tour that will also take him to Washington.

Jaishankar “conveyed that India values Secretary General’s leadership of the United Nations, especially in these challenging times. He conveyed India’s support for his candidature for re-election for a second term," two people familiar with the development said.

Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who held the job during 1995-2002, announced in January that he would seek re-election for the UN’s top job. He took office as the ninth UN Secretary General in January 2017, succeeding South Korea’s Ban ki-Moon.

Other issues discussed during the meeting between Jaishankar and Guterres included effective global vaccine solutions to tackle the covid-19 pandemic and regional challenges in India’s neighbourhood, especially in Afghanistan.

In a string of tweets late Tuesday, Jaishankar said during the hour-long meeting with Guterres, he had highlighted the importance of increased production and equitable distribution of vaccines, including the availability of raw materials needed to make them.

“Discussed the covid challenge, underlining the importance of finding urgent & effective global vaccine solutions. Critical to ramp up the vaccine supply chain to ensure greater production & fairer distribution," Jaishankar said in a post. He also described the meeting with Guterres as “warm and comprehensive."

India is currently focused on ways to boost vaccines production given the soaring demand at home after a particularly brutal second wave of covid-19 infections that has seen the overall death tally cross 300,000 and the total number of infections nearing the 27 million mark.

Jaishankar’s interactions with members of the US President Joe Biden's administration are also expected to focus on ways to remove impediments in the way of fast and efficient delivery of ingredients and raw materials needed for vaccine manufacture.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is also looking at ways to ramp up vaccine supplies to the COVAX facility to increase the distribution of doses to low and middle-income countries. The disruption of supplies from Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has hit WHO plans to supply vaccines to developing countries through COVAX.

The situation in Afghanistan following the start of the withdrawal of US troops on 1 May also figured in the conversation between Jaishankar and Guterres.

“Deliberated on regional challenges in India’s neighbourhood. Shared our concerns about ensuring that the gains of the last two decades in Afghanistan are adequately protected," Jaishankar said in another Twitter post late Tuesday. Countering terrorism and radicalisation remain priorities for the entire region," he said referring to his conversation with Guterres on Afghanistan.

The situation in Myanmar was also discussed. Military leaders of Myanmar dismissed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 February with the country seeing a number of pro-democracy protests since then.

On climate change, Jaishankar said greater resources were “essential for larger ambitions" for tackling the challenge and financing “will determine our seriousness and credibility" to tackle the phenomenon.

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