Saturday 3 December 2016

New UN chief warns of 'huge challenges' ahead

Published 06/10/2016 | 18:06

Antonio Guterres praised the UN Security Council for its swiftness and unity in approving him (AP)
Antonio Guterres praised the UN Security Council for its swiftness and unity in approving him (AP)

The man set to become the next United Nations secretary-general has said he faces "huge challenges" and hopes to see unity and consensus during his term.

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Antonio Guterres praised the UN Security Council for its swiftness and unity in approving him by acclamation in a formal vote earlier on Thursday.

"I sincerely hope that that was symbolic and displays an increased ability on the part of the Security Council to - through unity and consensus - be able to take the swift decisions which the troubled world we live in demands," Mr Guterres said in a brief statement at the foreign ministry in Lisbon.

Mr Guterres, 67, a former Portuguese prime minister who for 10 years was the UN high commissioner for refugees, is almost certain to replace Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general.

He said his focus as UN chief would be on helping the victims of war, poverty and injustice.

He spoke without notes in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish, but did not take questions.

"I have just two words to express my feelings at this moment: humility and gratitude," he said.

He praised the "intelligence and dedication and commitment" of his rivals for the secretary-general post as well as the Portuguese diplomats who campaigned for him.

AP

Press Association

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