Guterres urges South Asia dialogue to counter high tensions

Guterres urges South Asia dialogue to counter high tensions

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS)
By Arul Louis
United Nations, Sep 24 (IANS) United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that India and Pakistan should hold dialogue to lessen the tensions there.
In his address at the inauguration of the high-level meeting of the 74th session of the General Assembly, he said without naming the countries: "Tensions are elevated in South Asia, where differences need to be addressed through dialogue."
Guterres also said: "We have bolstered our counter-terrorism architecture and defined new strategies to tackle violent extremism and address root causes while respecting human rights."
In his speech that took a tour of world's hot spots, he warned of a "Great Fracture" of the world with China and the West creating two rival systems as they drift towards self-contained economic and technology ecologies.
"I fear the possibility of a Great Fracture: the world splitting in two, with the two largest economies on earth creating two separate and competing worlds, each with their own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, their own internet and artificial intelligence capacities, and their own zero sum geopolitical and military strategies," he said, but avoided naming the two systems.
He said: "We must do everything possible to avert the Great Fracture and maintain a universal system - a universal economy with universal respect for international law; a multipolar world with strong multilateral institutions."
Turning to the Gulf region, Guterres spoke of the risks of war there from a "minor miscalculation," referring to the attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
"We face the alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf, the consequences of, which the world cannot afford. The recent attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities was totally unacceptable," he said.
"In a context where a minor miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation, we must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint," he said.
The US and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for the attacks on the oil facilities.
But Guterres also made the case for reinstating the multilateral Iran nuclear deal from which President Donald Trump withdrew the US.
"I hope equally that it will still be possible to preserve the progress on nuclear non-proliferation represented by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," he said referring to the Iran deal.
Guterres also pointed out the positive developments, in particular the emergence of democracies.
He said: "Against the expectations of many, elections unfolded peacefully in Madagascar, the Maldives, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few.
Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia resolved their decades-long dispute while political dialogue in Sudan and the peace process in the Central African Republic "have brought renewed hope," he said.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter @arulouis)
--IANS
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