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In year-end news conference, UN chief hopes for peace in Ukraine in 2023 but is not optimistic

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on June 11, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (Li Muzi/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is “not optimistic” about the possibility of effective Ukraine peace talks in the immediate future and believes the military confrontation will go on.

But the UN chief said he will not relent in pursuit of peace in Ukraine in line with international law and the UN Charter, a key principle of which is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Speaking at his year-end news conference on December 19, he added that he “strongly hopes” peace can be reached in Ukraine in 2023.

Guterres also addressed protests in Iran and negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal as well as the climate when he spoke with reporters to wrap up the year.

He said Iran’s response to the anti-government protests has been “totally unacceptable” and that there is a serious risk of losing the Iran nuclear deal, which would be a blow to peace and stability in the region.

On climate, he said he will convene a “no-nonsense” summit in September 2023 and urged leaders from government, business, civil society, and finance to step up with new ideas.

“The invitation is open. But the price of entry is nonnegotiable — credible, serious, and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis. It will be a no-nonsense summit,” Guterres said.

He also said he will keep pushing for a climate solidarity pact that would require big emitters to make an extra effort to reduce emissions this decade and ensure support for those who need it.

Guterres also said the world needs to increase global access to fertilizers to avoid a lack of food in 2023.

Russia was the world’s top exporter of fertilizer before it launched its ongoing invasion of Ukraine in February.

Many in the West have accused Moscow of using the shipment of fertilizer and other crucial food-related supplies as a weapon in the war. Moscow denies the accusations.