UN chief concerned over J&K situation, encourages ‘positive dialogue’ for peace
‘UN, India to step up cooperation in counter-terrorism, terror financing’
United Nations, Sep 30: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has voiced concern over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir while encouraging "positive dialogue" to resolve the disagreements peacefully.
He also said the UN welcomes a greater role for India in addressing regional peace and security challenges.
"On the development front, India already is, and can become an even greater regional development force, helping other countries of the region forge a better future," Guterres told PTI in an email interview here ahead of his visit to India beginning Monday.
He said the UN welcomed a greater role for India in addressing regional peace and security challenges.
"I remain concerned by the situation in Jammu and Kashmir – I encourage positive dialogue for disagreements to be resolved peacefully," he said.
The UN chief will be in India from October 01 to 03 during which he will meet with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.
His visit coincides with the beginning of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi on October 02, 2019.
Guterres said he greatly appreciated India for its significant contributions to the UN. India ranks as the fourth largest troop contributing country, with a total of 6,719 uniformed personnel serving in 10 UN peacekeeping missions.
"The dedication and sacrifice of India's uniformed personnel are deeply valued and are a model for many others," he said.
He also highly commended India's contribution to addressing the urgent global challenge of climate change, particularly under the Paris Agreement.
"Climate change is moving faster than we are, and if we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change," he said.
Guterres noted that India had not been spared the consequences of climate change, as he cited Kerala's worst monsoon flooding in recent history and offered his heartfelt condolences to all affected by the floods.
He noted that more than 37 million Indians living along the coastline were vulnerable to sea-level rise.
Guterres said India's steadfast efforts against climate change were very much in line with the country's domestic development goals, which in turn make India a leader in global climate action.
Describing India as a champion of the global South, he said the country through its Development Partnership Fund with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation supports Southern-owned and Southern-led demand-driven and transformational sustainable development projects across the developing world.
"We are grateful for India's generous contribution towards this initiative," he said.
Guterres also paid tribute to Indian women, who he said have excelled in every sphere of economic and public life, both at home and internationally.
He said Kiran Bedi, who served as the first female United Nations Police Advisor, and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, the first female President of the General Assembly, have been "trailblazers" in the world organisation.
"Empowering women is equivalent to empowering communities for a better future. It is also a necessary condition for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals," he said.
Guterres said that India is an "important partner" of the United Nations in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism and there are plans to step up cooperation between the two on strengthening capacity in combating terror financing.
"The threat of radicalisation, violent extremism, and terrorism continues to persist and even grow in many parts of the world. Modern-day terrorists are savvy in both technology and social media, successfully exploiting contemporary tools to propagate the narrative of hate and violence to recruit young people and raise funds," Guterres said.
The UN chief emphasised that all nations must prevent and combat incitement to violence, and enforce counter-terrorism measures.
He described India as an important partner of the UN in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
The Government of India's recent contribution to the United Nations Trust Fund for Counter-Terrorism will support the execution of capacity-building projects by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, he said.
"There are also plans for cooperation between India and the United Nations on strengthening capacity in the areas of countering terrorist financing, and on the use of advance passenger information," the UN Chief said.
Guterres noted that though the primary responsibility lies with Member States, the UN Secretariat is fully committed to supporting efforts to tackle terrorism and to helping find multilateral solutions to complex global challenges such as this.
The recently-established United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism is tasked to provide strategic leadership and coordination to United Nations counter-terrorism efforts.
"The Organisation will also enhance its efforts in support of Member States' developing effective counter-terrorism strategies, through capacity building support and mobilisation of much-needed resources," he said.