US President Barack Obama has congratulated Antonio Guterres on his election as the next secretary-general of the United Nations. “Guterres has the character, vision, and skills needed to lead the United Nations at this critical moment and to reform its organizations and operations to better meet these unprecedented challenges,” Obama said in a statement on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported. The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday appointed 67-year-old Guterres as the next UN secretary-general to succeed retiring Ban Ki-moon, whose term expires at the end of this year.
Guterres served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. Before joining the UN refugee agency, Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He was the prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.
The US pledges to provide its full support to Guterres when he assumes leadership of the UN on January 1, 2017, Obama added.
In the statement, the US President also paid tribute to Ban for his decade of service to the UN.
“Secretary-General Ban has galvanized the international community behind efforts to address climate change, pushed the United Nations to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts, and advocated for universal values and human rights,” Obama said.