UN Secretary-General Guterres echoes PM Imran by backing virus debt relief for developing countries


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo: File

NEW YORK: United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday supported Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for a global initiative for debt relief to developing countries, saying such a measure must be an “important part” of the response to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world.

“The prime minister’s initiative is in the same spirit as the secretary-general’s own position,” the UN chief’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in response to a question from APP at the virtual news briefing.

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“Mr Guterres believes that debt relief must be an important part of the response to COVID-19 — including immediate waivers on interest payments for 2020,” he said.

“It’s important that the limited resources of the world’s poorest countries be used to combat the COVID-19 virus,” the spokesman said.

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“The secretary-general has made this clear publicly and privately, including in his discussions with the G20,” the spokesman added.

PM Imran urges world leaders to grant debt relief

On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had urged the world leaders, the UN Secretary-General, and heads of financial institutions across the globe to give debt relief to developing countries like Pakistan so that they could combat the deadly COVID-19 in a better way.

In this regard, the prime minister highlighted the difficulties being faced by the developing countries, particularly those burdened by heavy debt, in handling the situation. 

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The premier said that the biggest challenge for nations in the developing world was to save their people from dying of the pandemic and hunger due to extended lockdowns triggered by the disease.

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram gave a detailed briefing on the prime minister’s initiative to the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti.

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