Chirac pledges support for next UN chief

4th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 3, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Friday pledged his full support for the work of the UN' next secretary general, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, in Paris on a tour of key United Nations members.

PARIS, Nov 3, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Friday pledged his full support for the work of the UN' next secretary general, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, in Paris on a tour of key United Nations members.

"President Chirac has assured me of his active support for my future missions," Ban told reporters in French following a working lunch with Chirac, whose country was among those to back his candidacy.

"I was very encouraged by that support," he added, pledging to "cooperate closely with the French government at the UN" after he takes over from Ghana's Kofi Annan on January 1.

Paris has traditionally insisted that the UN's chief speak French, the body's second official language along with English, and the 62-year-old career diplomat has been studying the language intensively for the past year.

Chirac told Ban of "the great importance both he and France give to the United Nations and the special place he reserves for relations with the secretary general, for his action in service of peace, development and human rights," according to a spokesman for the presidency.

Their wide-ranging talks touched on North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programmes, the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, the situation in Lebanon and the broader Middle East as well as in Ivory Coast, a former French colony.

Ban told reporters that he welcomed North Korea's decision this week to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks, involving China, Russia, South Korea, the United States and the United Nations.

"It is encouraging that the participants concerned have agreed to resume the talks," he said.

He admitted however that he was "frustrated by the lack of progress and stability in Iraq."

The South Korean minister met earlier Friday with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and was also due to hold talks with Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy.

Ban will become the UN's eighth secretary general and the first Asian in the post since U Thant of Burma led the organisation from 1961 to 1971.

He travelled earlier this week to UN Security Council member Russia and is due to continue to Japan on Sunday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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