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UNSC grants Antonio Guterres second term as UN Chief

United Nations: The United Nations Security Council voted to give Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a second term, with conflict resolution set to top his agenda at the world body’s helm.

The 72-year-old former prime minister of Portugal has held the office since 2017 and faced no competition for the next term in the job.

Around 10 other people also sought the position, but they were not formal candidates because none of the 193 UN member states endorsed them.

During a brief closed door session the Security Council voted unanimously to recommend that the General Assembly gives Guterres another term, said the council’s current president, Estonian ambassador Sven Jurgenson.

Approval from the General Assembly is seen as a formality and expected to take place soon.

During his first term, Guterres was forced to concentrate on limiting the potential damage from the unilateral, nationalist, and alliance-wary foreign policy of Donald Trump.

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‘Welcome your emergence as leading global power’: US calls India an important partner in Indo-Pacific

Describing India as one of the most important partners of the US in the Indo-Pacific region, the Biden Administration on Tuesday said that it welcomes India’s emergence as a leading global power and its role as a net security provider in the region. “India is one of the most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region to us. We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and its role as a net security provider in the region,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference.

Earlier in the day, he said, Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with his Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, for the second time in less than a fortnight. During the call, the two leaders reaffirmed the strength of the US-India partnership and discussed issues of mutual concern, including the situation in Myanmar. Blinken expressed concern over the military coup and the importance of rule of law and the democratic process in Myanmar. They also discussed regional developments, including the value of US-India cooperation across the Indo-Pacific. ”Both sides look forward to expanded regional cooperation, including through the Quad, and to address the challenges of COVID and climate change, Price said.

Responding to a question, Price said the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is both broad as well as multi-faceted. “We’ll continue to engage at the highest levels of our government to deepen cooperation on many fronts, and we are confident that the strong and upward trajectory of our partnership will, in fact, continue, he told reporters. India and the US, he said, cooperate on a wide range of diplomatic and security issues, including defence, nonproliferation, regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, counterterrorism, peacekeeping, the environment, health, education, technology, agriculture, space and oceans.

“We also work closely in international organizations, and we welcome India joining the Security Council in last month of this year for a two-year term,” Price said. The United States, he noted, also remains India’s largest and most important trading partner, with total bilateral trade increasing to $146 billion in 2019. US companies, of course, are a large source of India’s foreign direct investment, he said.

Price also highlighted the people-to-people ties which he said are broad and important. “Across this country, nearly four million Indian Americans call the United States home, contributing in their communities and proudly serving their country in uniform,” he said.

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International Latest News

UN set to vote for Security Council seat assured for India

United Nations: The 193 members of the UN were set to vote on late Wednesday to elect five non-permanent members to the Security Council and India is assured of a victory having won the unanimous backing of the Asian Pacific group.

India is running on a platform of fighting terrorism and having a commitment to multilateralism and an equitable international system.

In a campaign document, India laid out a “5S” approach of Samman (Respect), Samvad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation) Shanti (Peace) and Samriddi (Prosperity).

When elected, India will begin a two-year term on the highest decision-making body of the UN on January 1 joining Vietnam as one of the two non-permanent Asian members and replacing Indonesia that will complete its tenure at the end of this year.

Its election to the Security Council will come as India is entangled in a heated territorial confrontation with permanent member China, which is also the patron of Pakistan on the Council.

India will step into a Council Chamber next year paralysed by the polarization of its veto-wielding permanent members that almost harks back to the Cold War era.

It will have to deftly deal with intractable issues like the Syrian civil war with international dimensions, Ukraine’s disputes with Russia, the US — or President Donald Trump’s — obsession with Iran or its fallout, and Yemen.

But at least when China tries to bring up the Kashmir issue in the Council as it has done twice recently, India will be right there.

Elections will also be held simultaneously for the president of the next session of the General Assembly that starts in September and for the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Volkan Bozkir, a Turkish diplomat and politician, is running unopposed for the presidency as are the 18 countries for that many vacancies on the ECOSOC.

The ten non-permanent Security Council seats are distributed among five regional groups and elections are held every year for the five that fall vacant on alternate years.

Mexico, which has the unanimous backing of the group for the Latin American and Caribbean, is assured of the seat.

But there are contested elections for the three others.

For the African seat, Djibouti is running against Kenya, which has the unanimous backing of the group.

Kenya is almost certain to get the African seat with the endorsement of the continent’s countries, while Djibouti is counting on a rift between the Arab and Non-Arab nations in the group.

Canada, Norway and Ireland are contesting the two seats allotted to the group made up of West European countries and others like Canada and Australia that do not fit in elsewhere.

A two-thirds majority is required for election and additional rounds will be held if candidates don’t get it the first time around.

Extra rounds, which will be held on subsequent days, are likely for the West Europe and Others seats, which are very competitive.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau phoned India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to canvass New Delhi’s vote for his country.

Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide had a video conversation with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Ireland, which is led by Indian-origin Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, is not known to have contacted India in recent days to seek its vote.

When elected, it will be India’s eighth stint on the Council.

Its last term was in 2011-12 and Hardeep Singh Puri, who was then India’s Permanent Representative and is now a minister, immediately planned to bid for it next term not wanting a long gap like the 19 years since the previous 1991-92 tenure.

The groundswell of support for India in the Asia Pacific group made Pakistan and China fall in line making it a unanimous endorsement.

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