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UN Chief Begins Mideast Tour

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R) and  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attend a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on Feb. 10.Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R) and  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attend a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on Feb. 10.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Istanbul on Friday for talks with Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, at the start of his first visit to the Middle East as the world body’s leader, his office said on Friday.

Guterres, who left New York on Thursday, was also scheduled to meet on Saturday with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and then travel to Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.

The UN chief will meet on Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and hold talks with Saudi’s crown prince and deputy crown prince.

The secretary-general’s regional tour will also take him to the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Egypt. He will then travel on to Bonn, Germany, for a G20 foreign ministers meeting next Thursday. 

Guterres was sworn in as the UN top diplomat in December.

During a press conference in Istanbul, underscoring the enormity of the plight of refugees, Guterres appealed for effective burden-sharing in supporting those who have been forced to flee their homes, as well as to those providing them refuge.

The UN chief, on his first official visit to the region, also thanked the Turkish government and people for their large humanitarian support to Syrian people as well as to those from other parts of the world.

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