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UN secretary general warns of ‘increasingly chaotic’ world order in veiled attack on Trump

Mr Guterres warns against ignoring climate change, and the dangers of populism to international cooperation

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 25 September 2018 18:31 BST
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Donald Trump says US wants UN to ‘respect its sovereignty’

The secretary-general of the United Nations has warned about the issues created by an “increasingly chaotic” world in remarks that appeared to be a veiled attack on President Donald Trump.

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general, warned international leaders on Tuesday that they face a myriad of challenges for continued global security. He said that the world faces the “massive, existential threats” posed by man made global warming on the planet, and urged leaders to implement the Paris climate change agreement in spite of Mr Trump’s decision to pull out.

The world “is suffering from a bad case of ‘Trust Deficit Disorder,” Mr Guterres said during his speech, pointing to the rise of populism within nations, “fragile” trust in international systems, and what appears to be a slow down in international cooperation between the world’s nations.

“Democratic principles are under siege,” he said.

In addressing both climate change and the threat of populism to international cooperation, Mr Guterres was setting the stage for a rift between him and the traditional international order, and the likes of Mr Trump, who has defined his presidency as one in which he will consider American interests above all others.

Mr Trump, who has previously questioned the validity of climate change, has announced that he plans on pulling the US — which played a central role in drafting the Paris agreement — from the international climate agreement that hopes to stymie the impact of human pollution on the planet.

UN General Assembly laughs as Donald Trump touts his achievements

The US president, for his part, praised the work of his administration and international allies during his speech on Tuesday.

The president touted what he claimed that a "booming" US economy was stronger than ever before, and touted several domestic achievements including low unemployment rates and a soaring stock market. Mr Trump claimed that the US has begun working on a border wall on its southern border with Mexico, and praised efforts to pass tax cut legislation in the past year.

"We are standing up for America, and the American people. And we are standing up to the world," Mr Trump said.

On the international stage, Mr Trump urged the United Nations to respect American sovereignty. He said that all other nations should seek to respect their own sovereignty as well, and asserted that individually strong countries would make for a stronger and better international order.

And, the president suggested that the time when the United States would dole out foreign aide without receiving anything in return is over.

"Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and frankly our — our friends," Mr Trump said. "And we expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defence".

Mr Trump had few kind words for major allies and international partners, and instead doubled down on criticising other countries he feels are taking advantage of the United States like China and the European Union. He claimed that China is taking advantage of the US with a trade deficit, for instance, and did not back down from his billions of dollars in trade tariffs that his administration has rolled out in the past year.

The president did, however, have kind words for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whom he met with earlier this year in an unprecedented meeting between the two super powers. Mr Trump indicated that Mr Kim and his regime have been making good on his promise to stop enriching uranium and launching ballistic missile tests.

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