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Opening General Assembly, UN chief warns against ‘new Cold War’

Alluding to US and China, Guterres says world ‘cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe’

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at an online video conference on September 3, 2020 (Ministry of Environment Government of Japan via AP)
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at an online video conference on September 3, 2020 (Ministry of Environment Government of Japan via AP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged the world to prevent a Cold War between the United States and China and halt conflicts so it can focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must do everything to avoid a new Cold War,” Guterres said in an address as he opened an almost entirely virtual UN General Assembly.

“We are moving in a very dangerous direction. Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a Great Fracture — each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities,” he said, without saying the United States and China by name.

Guterres has campaigned for an end to all violent conflicts as the world instead focuses on stopping the disease.

He pointed to some partial successes including ceasefires declared in Cameroon and Colombia.

He pressed for a universal ceasefire by the end of the year.

“I appeal for a stepped-up international effort — led by the Security Council — to achieve a global ceasefire by the end of this year,” Guterres said.

“We have 100 days. The clock is ticking.”

Guterres also offered open criticism of right-wing movements in the face of the coronavirus.

“Populism and nationalism have failed. Those approaches to contain the virus have often made things manifestly worse. “

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