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UN Chief Welcomes Obama Election

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the election of Senator Barack Obama as U.S. president. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Ban said he is "confident" about future relations between the United Nations and the United States. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Mr. Ban said this is an "historic opportunity" to fulfill the common goals of the United Nations and the United States, and he looks forward to working with the new administration.

"I am confident that we can look forward to an era of renewed partnership and a new multi-lateralism," he said.

Mr. Ban recalled Senator Obama's remarks during the campaign about the United Nations.

"He spoke about a "new era of global partnership" and building "bridges of cooperation with the U.N. and other nations," he said.

The secretary-general said he followed the campaign very closely and with great interest. He said both Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain are "outstanding men."

Mr. Ban said he has not yet spoken with Mr. Obama, but hopes to personally congratulate him soon.

He recalled an encounter the two had about a year ago on a flight from Washington to New York, after Mr. Obama declared his candidacy and just after Mr. Ban took up his post as secretary-general.

"We spent about, more than half an hour, on the airplane sitting together, and discussed many issues," Mr. Ban said. "He asked many questions about what the United Nations major goals are - issues on non-proliferation, issues like North Korea and Iranian nuclear issues, and U.N. reforms. He was very engaging and he knew a lot about the United Nations. I was very much encouraged."

The secretary-general said he would try to meet with the president-elect very soon, and have his policy advisors coordinate with the Obama transition team on the important issues facing the United Nations and the world.