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Mohammad Javad Zarif
National

Zarif Congratulates Newly-Appointed UN Chief

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to Antonio Guterres Thursday to congratulate him on his election as the new secretary-general of the United Nations.

"I have the pleasure to express my heartfelt congratulation to you on your well-deserved election as the next secretary-general of the United Nations," Zarif said, according to the letter carried by the website of Iran's permanent mission to the world body.

"I am confident that with your outstanding and remarkable career at the national level as well as the invaluable experience and expertise that you have earned in multilateral diplomacy, you are in the best possible position to be at the helm of the United Nations at this grave juncture for international relations.."

Guterres, 67, will replace Ban Ki-moon, 72, of South Korea.

Ban will step down at the end of 2016 after serving two five-year terms.

Guterres was Portugal's prime minister from 1995 to 2002 and UN high commissioner for refugees from 2005 to 2015.

"At the critical time that you will assume the leadership of our Organization, it is imperative that the United Nations engage in the crucial fight against all aspects of violent extremism and play effectively and efficiently its part in efforts toward finding peaceful and locally-owned solutions for the ongoing crises in Yemen and Syria," Zarif said in the letter.

Guterres pledged to act as an "honest broker" and said he would take a humble approach in trying to deal with global issues, with human dignity at the core of his work.

"Diversity can bring us together, not drive us apart," Guterres told the UN General Assembly, Reuters reported.

"We must make sure that we are able to break this alliance between all those terrorist groups or violent extremists on one side and the expressions of populism and xenophobia on the other side," he said.

"These two reinforce each other and we must be able to fight both of them with determination."

The 15-member UN Security Council last week unanimously recommended that the general assembly appoint Guterres. He beat out 12 other candidates, seven of whom were women, amid a push for the first woman to be elected.

Diplomats were now watching to see who Guterres appoints to senior UN positions amid speculation by diplomats and UN officials that China would like one of its nationals to head peacekeeping and that Russia is keen to lead political affairs.

Currently, a French man runs peacekeeping, an American leads political affairs and a Briton is in charge of humanitarian affairs.

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