Ahead of G20, UN chief warns ‘developing world on precipice of financial ruin’

Ahead of G20, UN chief warns ‘developing world on precipice of financial ruin’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “the developing world is on the precipice of financial ruin.” (Screenshot: G20)
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Updated 20 November 2020

Ahead of G20, UN chief warns ‘developing world on precipice of financial ruin’

Ahead of G20, UN chief warns ‘developing world on precipice of financial ruin’
  • A final statement will be released by G20 leaders after they meet by video conference on Saturday
  • “We cannot let the COVID pandemic lead to a debt pandemic,” Guterres told reporters

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday that “the developing world is on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering” as the world struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

His message came ahead of a meeting of the leaders of the Group of 20 nations and big emerging powers this weekend.

“We cannot let the COVID pandemic lead to a debt pandemic,” Guterres told reporters.

He has been pushing the G20 to further extend and expand debt service suspension to help developing and middle-income economies recover from the pandemic and for the allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and a voluntary reallocation of existing Special Drawing Rights.

“I am pushing for a further extension through the end of 2021 and, critically, to expand the scope of these initiatives to all developing and middle-income countries in need,” Guterres said.

A final statement will be released by leaders from the US, China and other G20 nations after they meet by video conference on Saturday.

“We face epic policy tests. But ultimately, there is a moral test. The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations. Every last penny,” Guterres said.

“We cannot use those resources to lock in policies that burden them with a mountain of debt on a broken and dangerous planet,” he said.


Belgian court to give verdict in Iran diplomat case on January 22

Updated 04 December 2020

Belgian court to give verdict in Iran diplomat case on January 22

Belgian court to give verdict in Iran diplomat case on January 22
  • Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces 20 years in prison if convicted
  • Assadi denies any involvement in the plot, which was foiled by security services

BRUSSELS: A Belgian court will deliver its verdict on Jan. 22 in the trial of an Iranian diplomat accused of plotting to bomb an exiled opposition group’s rally, his lawyer told AFP.
Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces 20 years in prison if convicted of plotting to target the rally in Villepinte, outside Paris, on June 30, 2018.
The rally included the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK), which Tehran considers a “terrorist group” and has banned since 1981.
Assadi denies any involvement in the plot, which was foiled by security services, and has refused to appear at Antwerp Criminal Court, where he is on trial with three alleged accomplices.
On Thursday, the second and last day of the hearing, the three maintained their innocence.
Lawyers for Nasimeh Naami and Amir Saadouni — a Belgian-Iranian couple arrested in possession of a bomb in their car on their way to France — claimed the explosive was not powerful enough to kill.
The lawyer for the third alleged accomplice, Mehrdad Arefani, described by the prosecution as a relative of Assadi, has refuted his involvement and also pleaded for his acquittal.
Prosecutors are seeking an 18-year jail term for the couple and 15 for Arefani.
The target of the alleged bomb plot was a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled opposition movement, outside Paris which was attended by several allies of US President Donald Trump, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Naami and Saadouni were arrested in Brussels the same day while, separately, German police on July 1 arrested Assadi, who allegedly handed the couple the explosives at a June meeting in Luxembourg.
Through his lawyer Dimitri de Beco, Assadi again protested that he should not have been deprived of his diplomatic immunity.
The verdict will be delivered at 1:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) on January 22.
The case has caused tensions between Iran and several European countries and shone an uncomfortable light on Tehran’s international activities.
In October 2018, France accused Iran’s ministry of intelligence of being behind the alleged attack.
Tehran has strongly denied the charges.