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AP Interview: Argentinian FM envisions 'inspirational' UN

Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra talks to The Associated Press during a visit to Doha, Qatar, on May 22, 2016. Malcorra, the latest candidate to enter the race to become the next United Nations secretary general, says the world body must become more inspirational and geared toward finding ways to tackle new challenges as they emerge. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)
May 22, 2016 - 11:26 AM

DOHA, Qatar - The latest candidate to enter the race to become the next United Nations secretary-general said Sunday the world body must become more inspirational and geared toward finding ways to tackle emerging new challenges.

She also thinks that finally having a woman at the helm would help drive the change that's needed.

"My sense is that women bring to any discussion a much more cross-cutting perspective, a much more integrated perspective. It is in the nature of women," Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said during an interview with The Associated Press two days after she was formally nominated for the job.

"So I think that will be helpful in a way to adapt and adjust the U.N. to this interconnected world," she continued.

Malcorra is the fifth woman to have entered the race to replace Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term is up at the end of the year.

She is a former U.N. undersecretary-general and chief of staff to Ban, and was tapped to become Argentina's foreign minister after President Mauricio Macri's election in November. Macri put her name forward for the secretary-general post on Friday.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly will pick the next secretary-general on the recommendation by the 15-member Security Council. That effectively gives the council's five permanent members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — veto power over any candidate.

The post has always gone to a man and has traditionally cycled among regions, including Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Seven of the 10 candidates who have publicly announced bids hail from Eastern Europe, a region that has never seen one of its own in the post.

Speaking to the AP during a brief visit to the Gulf nation of Qatar, Malcorra called for an "issue-centric U.N." rather than one "driven by its organizational arrangements."

"It's a matter of mindset and attitude. The U.N. has to be inspirational for the world and for its own people, and it has to be driven by the issues. Instead of finding the excuse why this is not possible, finding the way to make it happen," she said.

She pointed to the intractable conflict in Syria as a crisis that illustrates the shortcomings of the U.N. and the wider international community.

The job of the next secretary-general will be to prepare "early warning systems" and "engage early enough" to prevent similar crises from spinning out of control, she said.

As for whether Syrian President Bashar Assad must step aside to bring an end to the conflict, she was noncommittal, saying it "should be for the Syrians to decide if there is a transition."

In her role as foreign minister, Malcorra is putting emphasis on attracting foreign investment to Argentina as South America's second-largest economy looks to move beyond the legacy of its 2001 economic crisis and record default on $100 billion of debt.

The country last month returned to international credit markets with a successful $16.5 billion bond sale and paid off holdout creditors to end a years-old legal dispute that complicated its dealings with financial markets.

Malcorra held trade and investment talks in China last week. She sat down for similar bilateral discussions with Qatar during her visit, and expressed interest in further investment from the oil-rich Gulf Arab nations.

She also welcomed deeper engagement with Britain despite memories of the countries' 1982 war over the Falkland Islands, known in Argentina as the Malvinas, saying "it's not the only issue we can have with the United Kingdom."

Argentina wants more trade with the U.S. too, though Malcorra acknowledged that Argentina must do more to gain the confidence of the American private sector. President Barack Obama's visit in March was a step in that direction, she said.

"Our need is to secure good jobs for our people. And you can only do that if you get more investment and better trade," she said.


Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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