Really concerned, world heading to a Cold War era, says UN chief

His comments came after the Trump administration this week ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the US over the alleged poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK on March 4.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres talks during a news conference in Rome, on March 15.(Reuters file photo)
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres talks during a news conference in Rome, on March 15.(Reuters file photo)
Updated on Mar 30, 2018 07:52 PM IST
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Press Trust of India, United Nations | ByPress Trust of India

United Nations chief has said he is “really very concerned” as the world is heading to a time reminiscent of the Cold war era in the wake of the tensions between US and Russia and called for putting precautions in place to guarantee effective communication and prevent escalation.

His comments came after the Trump administration this week ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the US over the alleged poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK on March 4.

Of the 60 expelled, 12 are intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission to the UN who have been accused of abusing their privilege of residence in the United States.

“I am really very concerned. I think we are coming to a situation that is similar, to a large extent, to what we lived during the Cold War but with two very important differences,” UN secretary General Antonio Guterres said in response to questions by reporters on the US announcement to expel Russian UN diplomats and could a new Cold War be developing.

Guterres said in the Cold War, there were clearly two superpowers with a complete control of the situation of two areas in the world.

“Now, we have many other actors that are relatively independent and with an important role in many of the conflicts that we are witnessing, with risks of escalation that are well known,” he said.

He pointed out that during the Cold War, there were mechanisms of communication and control in place to avoid the escalation of incidents and to make sure that things would not get out of control when tensions would rise.

But with those mechanisms now dismantlement, it is time “for precautions of this sort, guaranteeing effective communication, guaranteeing capacity to prevent escalation. I do believe that mechanisms of this sort are necessary again.”

On how optimistic is he over the summit between South Korea and North Korea, the Secretary General said he is “very encouraged” by the announcement of the inter-Korean summit.

He said he is “very happy” that it was possible in the visit to North Korea by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman for the UN to make very clearly the case that a resumption of dialogues between the North and the South of the Peninsula was needed to reach the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

The UN chief had met in PyeongChang both the North Korean delegation and as well as South Korean President Moon Jae In and had encouraged them as much as possible to move in these two directions.

“I was extremely encouraged by the recent visit of the leader of the North Korea to China, and I think China is, of course, a very important contributor to a solution in this region,” he said referring to the surprise visit by Kim Jong-un to Beijing this week.

“I believe that, in this world where, unfortunately, so many problems seem not to have a solution, I think there is here an opportunity for a peaceful solution to something that, a few months ago, was haunting us as the biggest danger we were facing,” he said, a reference to the escalation of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme.

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