- Associated Press - Friday, October 20, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump said Friday that the United Nations has “tremendous potential” but has been underutilized in recent years.

Trump praised U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has led the 193-member world organization since January, during an Oval Office meeting. It was their first extended meeting.

The White House said the two leaders “discussed issues of mutual interest,” including North Korea, Syria, Iraq and Myamar.

The president used his U.N. debut in September to push the U.N. to cut its bureaucracy and fulfill its mission.

“The United Nations has tremendous potential. It hasn’t been used over the years nearly as it should be,” Trump said at the White House, where he was joined by his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

The U.N., Trump said, has the “power to bring people together, like nothing else,” and he predicted that “things are going to happen with the United Nations that we haven’t seen before.”

Guterres and Trump met briefly at the White House in April and also held talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting last month.

Guterres said he was a “true believer that we live in a messy world, but we need a strong, reformed and modernized U.N. We need a strong United States engaged, based on its traditional values - freedom, democracy, human rights.”

Trump offered praise for the U.N. leader, saying “You need talent, and he’s got the talent.” And the president told reporters: “We’ll see what happens. I’ll report back to you in about seven years.”

Trump said in September that the U.N. hadn’t reached its potential because of “bureaucracy and mismanagement,” and called upon the U.N. to change “business as usual and not be beholden to ways of the past which were not working.”

He also suggested the U.S. was paying more than its fair share for U.N. operations.

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