Trump and U.N. Leader Discuss ‘Cooperation’

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Having signaled a tough attitude and tightened purse strings toward the United Nations, President-elect Donald J. Trump spoke by phone on Wednesday with the organization’s newly installed secretary general, António Guterres, who has hinted at his own plans for budget restraint.

A United Nations spokesman, Farhan Haq, said at a regular daily briefing that Mr. Guterres had initiated the conversation. “This was an introductory call,” Mr. Haq said, adding that “it went quite well.” He said the two men had discussed “a number of avenues for participation and cooperation,” but he did not elaborate on them.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump, Sean Spicer, also did not specify what had been discussed except to say in a statement that the incoming administration would demand “some reform and change” to ensure that the organization used American tax dollars effectively.

Mr. Trump has criticized the United Nations in statements and Twitter posts, describing it as an organization that causes problems rather than resolving them. He has threatened to renounce the Paris agreement on tackling climate change that was a signature achievement of Mr. Guterres’s predecessor, Ban Ki-moon.

Mr. Trump also denounced the Security Council’s Dec. 23 resolution condemning Israeli settlements and criticized the Obama administration’s decision not to veto that measure. “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” he wrote in a Twitter message, referring to his administration’s first day in office.

Three days later, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that the United Nations was “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.

“So sad!”

Mr. Guterres, formerly the top official of the United Nations refugee agency and a onetime prime minister of Portugal, took over as secretary general after Mr. Ban’s term ended on Dec. 31. Like all secretaries general, he is mindful that the United States is the largest donor to the budgets of the United Nations and its peacekeeping operations, which together total about $13 billion.

Although Mr. Guterres has not specified what he might do differently in the budget, Mr. Haq hinted on Wednesday that the new secretary general was looking for ways to economize, announcing the creation of a committee that will look into “reorganization for greater efficiency.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Guterres’s first full day on the job, he diplomatically pushed back on Mr. Trump’s criticisms of the organization. Asked by reporters if he was concerned about the president-elect’s statements, Mr. Guterres said: “No. I’m concerned with all the terrible problems we face in the world.”

The new Security Council president for the month of January, Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden, was more pointed in his reaction when asked on Tuesday about Mr. Trump’s descriptions of the United Nations.

“Do we have fun in the U.N.?” Mr. Skoog said. “Yeah, but we also work very hard.”

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