Trump: UN has ‘tremendous potential’ under new leadership

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley (2nd R) and White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster (R) delivers remarks to reporters as he welcomes United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (L) for a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. on Friday. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Trump: UN has ‘tremendous potential’ under new leadership

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Friday that the United Nations has “tremendous potential” but has been underutilized in recent years.
Trump praised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has led the 193-member world organization since January, during an Oval Office meeting. It was their first extended meeting.
The White House said the two leaders “discussed issues of mutual interest,” including North Korea, Syria, Iraq and Myamar.
The president used his UN debut in September to push the UN to cut its bureaucracy and fulfill its mission.
“The United Nations has tremendous potential. It hasn’t been used over the years nearly as it should be,” Trump said at the White House, where he was joined by his UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
The UN, Trump said, has the “power to bring people together, like nothing else,” and he predicted that “things are going to happen with the United Nations that we haven’t seen before.”
Guterres and Trump met briefly at the White House in April and also held talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting last month.
Guterres said he was a “true believer that we live in a messy world, but we need a strong, reformed and modernized UN We need a strong United States engaged, based on its traditional values — freedom, democracy, human rights.”
Trump offered praise for the UN leader, saying “You need talent, and he’s got the talent.” And the president told reporters: “We’ll see what happens. I’ll report back to you in about seven years.”
Trump said in September that the UN hadn’t reached its potential because of “bureaucracy and mismanagement,” and called upon the UN to change “business as usual and not be beholden to ways of the past which were not working.”
He also suggested the US was paying more than its fair share for UN operations.


Afghan president faces flak for Eid truce offer

Updated 4 min 6 sec ago
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Afghan president faces flak for Eid truce offer

  • President Ashraf Ghani announced a three-month-long Eid truce with the Taliban on Sunday while marking Afghanistan's 99th Independence Day
  • The Taliban, in turn, announced the release of captured government soldiers on Eid Al-Adha but are silent over truce offer

KABUL: Taliban militants on Monday refrained from openly accepting, or rejecting, President Ashraf Ghani’s three-month-long conditional ceasefire. Dozens of Afghans, however, marched in protest in Kabul against Ghani’s offer, saying the insurgents did not deserve a truce.

The US, Britain, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are among countries that hailed President Ghani’s proposal, made on Sunday evening.

The Taliban had earlier accepted Ghani's truce offer during Eid Al-Fitr and announced a halt to fighting and thousands of them entered government-held areas to celebrate the post-Ramadan festival.

Spokesmen for the Taliban said their leadership had given no instruction whether the group will indeed declare a truce this time around.

The Taliban did say that several government troops captured by the insurgents would be freed on the occasion of Eid and that their release was not linked to Ghani's offer.

A spokesman for Ghani, Haroon Chakhansuri, said on Monday that no Taliban troops were among those the government plans to free on Eid Al-Adha.

Officials at the office of Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said no unilateral truce would be allowed along the pattern of last Eid. At that time, the Taliban observed only three days of ceasefire and attacked government forces across the country while the government enforced a longer truce.

Without the other side's willingness to halt fighting, the ceasefire would be meaningless, they said.

The spokesman for the government-appointed High Peace Council (HPC), Sayed Ehsan Taher, said the body’s findings showed that people wanted a permanent ceasefire between the government and the Taliban.

Afghan lawmakers claim the government seeks a prolonged truce because it is unable to hold both the parliamentary elections slated for October and the presidential election in six months’ time.
Despite international support for Ghani’s ceasefire offer, a group of people in Kabul, led by former intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, staged a protest against it.

“The Taliban only bring the forces of evil into our cities. They only bring death, destruction, and chaos,” one protester, Ejaz Malikzada, said.
Forgetting the crimes of Taliban militants is tantamount to participating in their crimes, said some of the lawmakers in Ghani's administration. Family members of hundreds and thousands of Taliban victims have neither forgiven nor forgotten the atrocities, said one of the lawmakers who asked for anonymity.
“Our city is our home, not a haven for filthy terrorists. The Taliban only bring death and destruction. In a matter of one week, Taliban terrorists murdered 1,000 Afghan National Security Forces and civilians. We cannot let all that blood go in vain,” said Saleh.
The protesters called on the general public not to allow the Taliban to enter government-held areas. Some locals in northern Baghlan province have even vowed to shoot any Taliban on sight if they enter government-held areas as they did the previous time.