Swedish minister hopes Trump backs UN chief on averting wars

Sweden's foreign minister said Monday she hopes U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will support a strong United Nations and new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' focus on preventing potential conflicts from turning into costly wars.

Margot Wallstrom said in an interview with The Associated Press that Trump, who takes over the presidency from Barack Obama on Jan. 20, should be judged by his actions — and not his tweets or past statements.

"So we are hoping that it will be a rational approach that will help us," Wallstrom said with a laugh. "We believe that the strong U.N. will be good also ... to make America stay great."

Trump has been critical of the 193-member world organization.

Days after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution last month condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Trump tweeted: "The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!"

Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council and Wallstrom flew to New York to preside over a meeting Tuesday at which Gutteres will for the first time discuss his ideas for promoting a more peaceful world.

Wallstrom said conflict prevention is a top priority for Sweden and for Guterres, who took over as U.N. chief from Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 1.

She said Guterres has made "the call for peace his signal to the world" and the United Nations must work with him to improve ways to prevent conflicts.

"We used to say that if you want peace prepare for war, but I think that instead we have to admit that if you want peace you have to prepare for peace — and that's what we're interested in," she said.

"Today, most problems know no national borders," Wallstrom said. "If you think conflict prevention is expensive, try war."

During her meeting with Guterres earlier Monday, Wallstrom said, they both agreed that "early warning has to be followed by early action."

She said there is a lot of uncertainty not only about Trump's support for the U.N. but about how he will take on the traditional U.S. leadership of NATO.

Trump criticized NATO during the presidential campaign and suggested the U.S. might not defend partners that don't fulfill financial obligations to the longstanding U.S.-European military alliance.