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UN chief to discuss key issues with pope

world Updated: Apr 16, 2008 10:13 IST
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The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday he is looking forward to a wide-ranging discussion with Pope Benedict XVI on issues ranging from climate change and fighting poverty to disarmament and promoting cultural dialogue.

Ban noted that the pontiff will be coming to UN headquarters on Friday exactly one year after he met Benedict at the Vatican and issued an invitation.

"I am looking forward to meeting with his holiness again so that we can continue our discussions on issues of common concern, such as poverty reduction, climate change, disarmament and the dialogue among civilizations," Ban said.

"We are now facing many challenges these days," he told reporters. "We need really strong spiritual support from the pope."

The pope's visit will be the fourth by a leader of the Roman Catholic church to the United Nations: Paul VI came in 1965 when the UN celebrated its 20th anniversary; John Paul II came in 1979 at the start of his pontificate and again in 1995 for the UN's 50th anniversary.

Benedict is scheduled to hold a tete-a-tete meeting with the secretary-general before addressing the General Assembly, where all 192 UN member states are represented. He will also meet privately with the assembly and Security Council presidents and address UN staff.

Last week, Archbishop Celestine Migliore, the Holy See's UN observer, said the pope is coming to the UN as "a pilgrim of peace" to promote cultural and religious dialogue based on fundamental human rights that are nonnegotiable.