UN chief: Two-state solution remains the ‘only way forward’
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UN chief: Two-state solution remains the ‘only way forward’

Kicking off General Assembly speeches, Guterres says continued stagnation in peace talks may ‘lead to tomorrow’s escalation’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

UN Secretary General António Guterres on Tuesday opened his first General Assembly speech with a call to renew steps toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We must not let today’s stagnation in the peace process lead to tomorrow’s escalation,” he told the United Nations chamber in New York, in an address that kicked off several days of speeches from world leaders.

“The two-state solution remains the only way forward and must be pursued,” he added.

Guterres’ call for the renewal of the efforts toward a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict echoed remarks made by a number of world leaders ahead of the start of the General Assembly, including US President Donald Trump and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

While Trump has repeatedly emphasized his desire for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has yet to express explicit backing for the two-state solution, which is endorsed by a large majority of world leaders.

In his speech, which touched upon a number of hot-button issues around the globe, Guterres also called for stronger international cooperation to combat terrorism, saying that while “terrorism can never be justified,” countries must “do more to address the roots of radicalization including real and perceived injustices.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)

In his first state-of-the-world report since taking the reins of the United Nations on January 1, Guterres put “nuclear peril” as the leading threat, warning that “we must not sleepwalk our way into war.”

He warned the world’s leaders that the threat of a nuclear attack is at its highest level since the end of the Cold War and “fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings.”

The UN chief said that millions are living in fear “under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests” of North Korea.

His message on “fiery” rhetoric was implicitly directed at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but also at the United States and Trump, who has warned of “fire and fury” if North Korea does not back down.

Guterres said a solution to the North Korea nuclear threat must be political, and stressed to leaders: “This is a time for statesmanship.”

He also urged Myanmar to halt its military campaign against Rohingya Muslims, just hours after Aung San Suu Kyi failed to quell an international outcry in a much-anticipated nationwide address.

“The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, and allow unhindered humanitarian access,” Guterres said. “They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long.”

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