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World Leaders Hail Appointment of Ban Ki-Moon to Head UN


World leaders are hailing the appointment of South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon as the United Nations next secretary-general.

In Ban's home country, South Korea's president applauded the U.N. General Assembly's choice on Friday, calling it a source of national pride. He also expressed hope the veteran diplomat would help resolve the standoff with North Korea regarding its nuclear weapons program.

Congratulations also came from the leaders of Japan, China, and the European Union. President Bush, in a statement issued Friday, said the United States will rely on his leadership during a time of great challenge and opportunity for the world body.

Ban will become the first South Korean to take over the coveted post, and only the second Asian secretary-general, after U Thant of Burma, who served from 1961 to 1971.

He will begin his five-year term as the U.N.'s eighth leader on January 1, succeeding current Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Addressing the General Assembly Friday, Ban said the United Nations should do its part to expand peace operations and confront the threat posed by terrorism. He also said the world body must address global issues such as HIV-AIDS, human rights and climate change.

Ban also said reform of the United Nations was vital because member states must believe in the U.N.'s future. He said it would revitalize what he called "our common endeavor." Ban said to cut through the "fog" of mistrust would require more intensive dialogue among the 192-member world body.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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