United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has voiced concern over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir while encouraging "positive dialogue" to resolve the disagreements peacefully. He also said the UN welcomes a greater role for India in addressing regional peace and security challenges.
"On the development front, India already is, and can become an even greater regional development force, helping other countries of the region forge a better future," Guterres told PTI in an email interview here ahead of his visit to India beginning Monday.
He said the UN welcomed a greater role for India in addressing regional peace and security challenges.
"I remain concerned by the situation in Jammu and Kashmir – I encourage positive dialogue for disagreements to be resolved peacefully," he said.
The UN chief will be in India October 1 to 3 during when he will meet with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. His visit coincides with the beginning of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, 2019.
Guterres said he greatly appreciated India for its significant contributions to the UN. India ranks as the fourth largest troop contributing country, with a total of 6,719 uniformed personnel serving in ten UN peacekeeping missions.
"The dedication and sacrifice of India's uniformed personnel are deeply valued and are a model for many others," he said.
He also highly commended India's contribution to addressing the urgent global challenge of climate change, particularly under the Paris Agreement.
"Climate change is moving faster than we are, and if we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change," he said.
Guterres noted that India had not been spared the consequences of climate change, as he cited Kerala's worst monsoon flooding in recent history and offered his heartfelt condolences to all affected by the floods. He noted that more than 37 million Indians living along the coastline were vulnerable to sea-level rise. Guterres said India's steadfast efforts against climate change were very much in line with the country's domestic development goals, which in turn make India a leader in global climate action.
Describing India as a champion of the global South, he said the country through its Development Partnership Fund with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation supports Southern-owned and Southern-led demand-driven and transformational sustainable development projects across the developing world.
"We are grateful for India's generous contribution towards this initiative," he said.
Guterres also paid tribute to Indian women, who he said have excelled in every sphere of economic and public life, both at home and internationally. He said Kiran Bedi, who served as the first female United Nations Police Advisor, and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, the first female President of the General Assembly, have been "trailblazers" in the world organisation.
"Empowering women is equivalent to empowering communities for a better future. It is also a necessary condition for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals," he said.