Wed Feb 1, 2017 5:51PM
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Photo by AFP)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Photo by AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the administration of US President Donald Trump to entirely lift a controversial ban it has imposed on the entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.

"I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later," Guterres told reporters on Wednesday, adding that the ban would fail to serve the objectives of the US administration to make the country safe in the face of threats.

Guterres, who took on as the UN chief last month, said Trump's ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen would not deter terrorists from entering the United States, urging the new administration to overturn the decision.

"This is not the way to best protect the US or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possible terrorist infiltration... I don't think this is the effective way to do so," Guterres stated.

It was the first official stance adopted by the UN secretary-general concerning Trump. Guterres spoke by phone with the new US president last month, with sources saying that the UN chief sought during the introductory call to engage more with Washington. Farhan Haq, a spokesman for Guterres, described the call as a "very positive discussion on US and UN relations."

Protesters listen to a speaker at the South Carolina Statehouse during a demonstration in response to an executive order by the administration of US President Donald Trump blocking entry of refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Columbia, South Carolina, January 31, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

However, there have been many speculations that Trump would be tough on the UN as he repeatedly accused the world body during his election campaign of failing to perform its duties. Trump has also vowed to reduce Washington's financial contribution to the UN. He has clashed with the UN over issues such as the condemnation of Israeli settlements, climate change and refugees.

Trump's 90-day travel ban, which has triggered demonstrations inside the United States, has been accompanied with an order for the suspension of the entry of all refugees for 120 days while Syrian refugees have been barred indefinitely. Trump claims the move is aimed at making America safer in the face of increasing threats from terrorist groups.