UN chief Antonio Guterres will travel to India early next month, his first trip to the country as head of the world body that coincides with the commencement of events marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Secretary-General will arrive in New Delhi on October 1. His visit coincides with the beginning of events to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 next year, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq told reporters on Friday.
On October 1, Guterres will formally open the new UN House in New Delhi and on October 2, the Secretary-General will participate in the closing session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention.
During the visit, he will meet President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on October 3.
He will also meet with Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan before giving a lecture at the India Habitat Centre on Global Affairs on the theme ‘Global challenges, global solutions’.
The Secretary-General will also take part in the General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance. In the afternoon of October 3, he will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar and will return to New York on October 4.
Guterres had visited India in July 2016, just months ahead of the election for Secretary General. During his visit then, he had met Swaraj.
Replying to a question on Guterres’ trip to the Golden Temple, Haq said that the visit is essentially a personal one as the UN chief wanted to see the holy Sikh pilgrimage site.
When asked if Guterres will be asked questions about the 1984 Sikh riots, Haq said it was a bit “premature” to mention the topics he will bring up.
Haq also expressed the world body’s gratitude to the Indian government for its contribution of USD 1 million to install solar panels and a green roof on the Conference Building of the United Nations Secretariat.
The contribution was received by Under-Secretary-General for Management Jan Beagle, who said that “India’s generous contribution sends a strong message promoting innovation for action on climate change, and to enable greater efficiencies”.
The initiative will help the Secretariat reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable energy, Haq added.