UNSC backs new term for UN chief Guterres

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The United Nations Security Council has supported Antonio Guterres' bid for a second term as UN secretary-general, the Estonian UN ambassador Sven Jurgenson says after a meeting of the most powerful UN body.

Guterres called the decision a "great honour".

"I am very grateful to the members of the Council for the trust they have placed in me," he said in a statement.

"Guterres was always going to win a second term easily," said Jurgenson, who is leading the council presidency in June.

"Most diplomats in New York respect the way he handled the (US President Donald) Trump administration, protecting the UN from US financial cuts as much as possible," Jurgenson added.

"Ambassadors feel he deserves a second term and a chance to work with a more favourable US administration."

A council recommendation is considered a crucial hurdle for Guterres to be confirmed by the General Assembly for another five years in the highest UN office.

A session of the General Assembly is expected before the end of June.

The UN chief's new term is scheduled to start on January 1, 2022, and last five years.

The previous nine post-holders were all men.

Four of them came from Europe.

Guterres has led the world organisation since 2017.

The decision in favour of Guterres was expected, as there were no opposing candidates.

In the past few years, Guterres has managed to maintain good relations with the powerful veto powers: the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France.