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Duterte calls for peace as US-China tension comes to fore at UN summit

MJ Blancaflor

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President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the 193 member-states of the United Nations to keep peace and “not hate each other” as tensions between Washington and Beijing came to the fore during the annual assembly of the international body.

Without dropping names, the President told other world leaders that there will be a terrible toll on human life and property if the “word war” deteriorates into a real war of nuclear weapons and missiles.

“Escalating tensions benefit no one. New flashpoints heighten fears and tend to tear peoples apart. When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled flat,” Duterte said during his maiden speech at the summit which was aired early Wednesday.

“I, therefore, call on the stakeholders in the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East, and Africa: if we cannot be friends as yet, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much. I heard it once said, and I say it to myself in complete agreement,” he added.

President Duterte also called on UN member-states to implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical and the Biological Weapons Conventions to ensure peace across the globe.

The Chief Executive added that the global health crisis has complicated the world’s security environment as he warned against weapons of mass destruction.

“No aspiration nor ambition can justify the use of weapons that destroy indiscriminately and completely. There is no excuse for deaths that a nuclear war could cause nor the reckless use of chemical and biological weapons that can cause mass destruction,” he said.

“These weapons of death put us all at mortal risk, especially if they fall in the hands of terrorists without a shred of humanity in their souls,” Duterte added.

The President also emphasized that mutual understanding, accompanied by mutual tolerance among countries with different faiths and cultures, is the foundation of peaceful societies.

During the summit, United States President Donald Trump blamed China for the spread of coronavirus, saying it must be held “accountable” for the pandemic which gripped economies worldwide.

“In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically, while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world. China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes,” Trump said.

For his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing has “no intention to enter a Cold War with any country.”

Trump and Xi, leaders of the world’s two largest economies, laid out competing visions at a time when relations have plunged to their worst level in decades.

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