Trump hits out at UN 'mismanagement'

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US President says organisation has not reached its 'full potential'

UNITED NATIONS: US President Donald Trump warned "bureaucracy" is stopping the United Nations (UN) from realising its potential, in a barbed message yesterday during his first appearance at an institution he once derided as a talking shop.

Attending a discussion on UN reform, Mr Trump insisted he had always seen the "great potential" of the organisation from a perch "right across the street" at his New York home.

"The UN was founded on truly noble goals" he said, adding that "in recent years the UN has not reached its full potential, because of bureaucracy and mismanagement".

He is making his debut at the UN with a much-anticipated address to the world body today, as a week of diplomacy kicks off.

Under Mr Trump's leadership, the United States, the UN's top financial backer, has threatened deep cuts to funding that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said would create an "unsolvable problem" for the organisation.

Mr Guterres, who is pushing for an overhaul of the UN bureaucracy, will also address the event at which leaders will sign a pledge of support for reform.

France and Russia have reacted coolly to the initiative amid concerns that the US administration is focused more on cost-cutting than improving the UN's performance.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was a driving force behind a US$600 million (S$810 million) cut to the peacekeeping budget this year.

Mr Trump was scheduled to hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, who will also be making his maiden address at the General Assembly today, and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Macron and Mr Netanyahu are expected to raise the future of the Iran nuclear agreement, with the former making a case for keeping it alive and the latter pushing for its demise.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in an exclusive interview with CNN that the US would pay a high price if Mr Trump makes good on his threats to scrap the nuclear deal.

Mr Rouhani said such an action by the Trump administration "will yield no results for the US, but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust placed in the US".North Korea's nuclear and missile tests will also be in the spotlight with foreign ministers set to discuss enforcing sanctions against Pyongyang during a Security Council meeting on non-proliferation on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Mr Trump will hold talks with Japanese and South Korean leaders who have backed the US drive to ratchet up sanctions on North Korea.

Russia and China, however, are calling for diplomatic talks with North Korea while warning that a military option as suggested by the US would have catastrophic consequences.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will host a meeting on the military campaign in Myanmar, which the UN has described as "ethnic cleansing" after more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the nation. - AFP

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