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UN Chief Urges Palestinian Government to Work for Peace


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the new Palestinian coalition government to meet the international community's demands for peace and security in the region.

Mr. Ban spoke Saturday in Cairo, after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.

The U.N. secretary general said he discussed with Mr. Mubarak the need to encourage the ongoing peace process following the formation of the new Palestinian government.

The coalition of rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah has not yet met international demands to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Mr. Ban also is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian territories.

Mr. Ban today also said the U.N. may increase its presence in Iraq. He said the world body will continue assisting the political, economic and social reconstruction of the country.

Cairo was the second stop on Mr. Ban's tour of the Middle East. He also is scheduled to visit Lebanon and attend the Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia.

The summit is expected to re-launch the Saudi initiative, which calls for Israel to return all territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day War in exchange for normal relations with Arab countries. Israel says it is taking the offer seriously, but that elements of the plan are unacceptable.

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

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