Trump issues fresh attack on United Nations

Incoming UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech during a ceremony to award Guterres with a human rights award at the Parliament in Lisbon, Portugal on Dec 23, 2016.
Incoming UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech during a ceremony to award Guterres with a human rights award at the Parliament in Lisbon, Portugal on Dec 23, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

PALM BEACH, United States (AFP) – US President-elect Donald Trump launched a fresh salvo of accusations against the United Nations Wednesday (Dec 28), saying the world body had not lived up to its potential and failed to solve global problems.

“The UN had such tremendous potential. (It is) not living up to its potential,” Trump told reporters at his Florida holiday resort Mar-a-Lago. “When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don’t. They cause problems.” 

The international institution, set up amid the ashes of World War II includes the World Health Organization, which helped eradicate small pox, and the Security Council, which was frozen by divisions as Syria plunged into chaos.

“If it lives up to the potential, it’s a great thing. If it doesn’t, it’s a waste of time and money,” Trump said.

His comments came as incoming UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he wants to meet Trump “as soon as possible” and is “determined to establish a constructive dialogue with the new US administration.” 

Guterres, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of last month, said in an interview he hoped for a similar outcome with the American President-elect.

The former Portuguese prime minister takes over from Ban Ki Moon on Jan 1 amid ongoing bloodshed in Syria and questions over the US role in the world under a Trump presidency. Trump takes office on Jan 20.

"I had an excellent working meeting with President Putin and I hope this will also be the case with Donald Trump," he told Portuguese television channel SIC in an interview Wednesday (Dec 28).

"It is certainly in my interest to visit him as soon as possible," he said. "The United States is not only the main donor of the United Nations but a fundamental element in its actions."

Trump on Friday said Washington's policies at the UN will be different after he takes office.

"As to the UN, things will be different after Jan 20th," he said on Twitter.

The tweet came after the United States refrained from vetoing the adoption of a Security Council measure calling on Israel - its closest Middle East ally - to halt settlement activities in Palestinian territory.

Trump has not hidden his scepticism about the fight against global warming but has modified that position since his Nov 8 election win saying he may support global accords on climate change, and that he had "an open mind".

Asked about this, Guterres said the "new (US) government will certainly adopt a different position" than that of Barack Obama's administration.