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UN chief Guterres to lobby US Congress to save funding

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni meets Guterres (left) in the US recently. Top UN officials are expected in Kampala this week as Uganda hosts a major refugees fundraiser. The Summit is jointly organized by Government of Uganda, the Office of the United Nations Secretary- General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with the support of the UN in Uganda.

United Nations, United States | AFP |  Drastic cuts in US funding to the United Nations would create an insoluble problem for the world body, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday as he announced plans to lobby US lawmakers to reject the cutbacks.

Guterres will travel to Washington next week to make the case directly to US members of Congress who have the power to amend President Donald Trump’s budget proposals.

Last month, the US State Department laid out plans to slash Washington’s budget for diplomacy and foreign aid by more than 30 percent, including a dramatic cut of 60 percent to US funding for peacekeeping missions.

The United States is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 per cent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget.

“The proposal of budget that was presented to the Congress would create an insolvable problem to the management of the UN,” Guterres told a news conference at UN headquarters.

“The process is still in the Congress and I will soon be going to Washington,” he added.

Guterres has no plans to visit Trump at the White House during the June 27-29 visit, or hold talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

He will meet with key players on Capitol Hill: Republican speaker Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, Republican Senator Marco Rubio and members of the foreign relations and appropriations committees in both houses, among others.

In April, Guterres traveled to Washington for a first brief meeting with Trump, but there was no public handshake or joint press conference to expand on the state of US-UN relations.

Aside from the funding cuts, the Trump administration has also announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the culmination of years of UN-led negotiations, and has taken aim at refugee resettlement.

Guterres warned that a US retreat from global affairs would create a void that would allow other powers to step in.

“If the United States disengages in relation to many aspects of foreign policy… it will be unavoidable that other actors will occupy that space,” he said.

“I don’t think that this is good for the United States and I don’t think this is good for the world.”

 

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