United Nations General Assembly. (File Photo, Image credit: The United Nations)

World powers squabble over COVID-19 even as Guterres sketches gloomy scenario

Even as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned the world about the dangerous impact of climate change and the pandemic, the United States, China and Russia quarreled in the Security Council over the handling of COVID-19. While the US envoy to the United Nations Kelly Craft directly blamed China for the spread of corona virus, her Chinese counterpart Zhang Jun hotly denied the charge and held the US to be responsible for its own problems. He said, “Enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already. … The US should understand that blaming others will not solve its own problems.”

Referring to the scientific advancement of the United States, he continued, “With the most advanced medical technologies and system in the world, why has the US turned out to have the most confirmed cases and fatalities?”

He was at the same time critical of US office-bearers, “If someone should be held accountable, it should be a few US politicians themselves.”

Backing his Chinese counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also took an indirect dig on the US by saying that: “We see attempts on the part of individual countries to use the current situation in order to move forward their narrow interests of the moment, in order to settle the score with an undesirable government or geopolitical competitors.” 

On his country’s part, the United Kingdom’s minister of state for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad told the gathering, “At times, geopolitics have tampered cooperation and hindered our agility. The pandemic has tested the international system like never before. But now is not the moment to reject international institutions.” He was evidently speaking in favour of the United Nations and its various institutions.

Curiously the French foreign minister, though being an ally of the US, appeared to be critical of Washington, when he said the disease should not be used to undermine “all the work has been done over recent decades by feminist movements for gender equality”.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres was of the view that he feared the worst if the climate crisis was approached in the same way as COVID-19.

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