“I’m here as your partner and your friend” pledges UN chief to AU

In his first address to the African Union (AU) as UN chief, Antonio Guterres told assembled leaders and heads of government on Monday that he was here "as your partner and your friend."

Speaking in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the Secretary-General said he would work with African countries "in solidarity and respect to advance peace and security on the continent."

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Guterres told the opening session of the AU Assembly that he welcomed all ideas for strengthening cooperation and partnership between Member States and the UN "based on the priorities and the needs of the people of Africa".

He praised the work of the eight regional economic communities in Africa on security and development, singling out West Africa's ECOWAS, which was central to last week's peaceful transition of power in the Gambia.

It had been "a lesson to the world" in advancing shared principles he said.

He expressed his "deep gratitude" towards the AU and the efforts made by its membership in support of peacekeeping missions around the world.

"The African Union is working every day for unity, peace and progress, for all people in every corner of this great continent. African nations are also among the world's largest and most generous hosts of refugees. African borders remain open for those in need of protection, when so many borders are being closed, even in the most developed countries in the world."

The Secretary-General said that long-term thinking would be crucial to advance the "nexus between peace, security and development" across Africa.

Source: United Nations Radio