U.N. chief congratulates Biden, says U.S. 'essential' to global cooperation

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an interview with Reuters at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 14, 2020. Picture taken September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.N. chief Antonio Guterres congratulates U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a U.N. spokesman said on Monday, describing U.S. partnership with the world body as an “essential pillar” of global cooperation.

Biden will succeed President Donald Trump, who has been critical of the 193-member United Nations and wary of the value of multilateralism during his four years in office. Guterres took up his role just a few weeks before Trump in 2017.

Guterres “reaffirms that the partnership between the United States and the United Nations is an essential pillar of the international cooperation needed to address the dramatic challenges facing the world today,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Since taking office, Trump has quit the U.N. Human Rights Council, the World Health Organization, the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. The Trump administration cut funding for the U.N. agency supporting Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Biden, who was vice president under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, has pledged to rescind Trump’s decision to abandon the WHO and quickly rejoin the Paris climate accord, a signature achievement of the Obama-Biden administration.

Biden has also said he will rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, also negotiated under the Obama administration, if Tehran also returns to compliance.

On the election of Harris, who will become the first female U.S. vice president, Dujarric said Guterres “is always pleased when a woman leader breaks yet another ceiling.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Editing by Franklin Paul and Dan Grebler