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New UN leader to meet Bush in Washington next week

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 12 (Reuters) UN leader Ban Ki-moon confers with US President George W Bush in Washington this Tuesday in his first travel since becoming secretary-general this month, the United Nations said today.

Ban, who assumed the top UN leadership post on Jan. 1, succeeding Kofi Annan of Ghana, also plans talks with US lawmakers during his visit, UN chief spokeswoman Michele Montas told reporters.

Ban told a news conference yesterday that Bush had invited him to the US capital next week as head of the government hosting UN headquarters. But Ban did not name a day.

Asked whether he might be seen as favoring Washington in his policy positions, Ban told reporters his job required him to serve ''the interests of the United Nations'' rather than any one nation.

Ban's second official trip will take him to Africa near the end of the month, including a Jan. 29-30 African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

At the summit, he planned to focus on stability in Somalia after a war between the shaky interim government and Islamists, and reinforcing an AU peacekeeping mission in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, devastated by a four-year conflict.

While in Africa, he would also visit the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to the world body's biggest peacekeeping mission, and UN offices in Nairobi, he said.

Before heading to Africa, he planned to attend a Jan. 25 conference in Paris on rebuilding Lebanon after last year's 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah, he said.

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