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Ban Ki-moon: 'G-20 nations must keep their promise'

By Anna Coren, CNN
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Ban Ki-moon's hopes for the G-20
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Seoul for the G-20 summit
  • Called on countries to honor commitment to help poorer nations
  • Rebuffed criticism that U.N. has lost influence under his leadership

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in his hometown of Seoul for the G-20 summit and is calling on nations to not forget about the real reasons why they have gathered in the Korean capital.

With trade and currency imbalances expected to top the, the former South Korean foreign minister insists that rich, developed nations must "keep their promise" to the developing world.

"While I'm concerned that opinion is divided among some G-20 leaders, this is the moment for unity and co-ordination to come together and help the developing nations and poor people," he told CNN.

The 66-year-old U.N. boss is a strong advocate of the Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing world poverty and hunger by 2015. Many have questioned how the goals focused on women and children and require a commitment of $40 billion can actually be achieved, especially in light of the global economic downturn.

Opinion is divided among some G-20 leaders, but this is the moment for unity
--Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary-General
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"I understand the skepticism but I believe with strong political will and leadership ... they can be achieved. We must send a message of hope," he said.

During the 15-minute interview inside the National Assembly, Mr Ban discussed a number of world issues. He questioned the legitimacy of this month's elections in Myanmar, describing them as "not sufficient or inclusive", highlighting the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest.

He urged the military junta to release the opposition leader "without fail" when her house arrest expires on 12 November 2010.

On the sensitive subject of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winner Liu Xiaobo, Mr Ban says he has raised the issue of human rights with the Chinese Government.

Mr Ban was in Beijing earlier this month for talks with President Hu Jintao and many criticized the U.N. Secretary-General for not raising the subject of Liu Xiaobo's release. The Nobel Peace Prize-winner is serving an 11-year prison sentence on charges of subversion.

When asked whether he believed Mr Liu should be released, the U.N. boss replied, "I hope the Chinese government has heard all the calls from the international community".

Mr Ban has been criticized in the past for not speaking out on controversial issues. And while he's been compared to his predecessor Kofi Annan -- known for his charismatic and media-savvy style -- Mr Ban says his approach is "quiet diplomacy" and achieves much more behind the scenes and in one-on-one meetings with world leaders.

As for criticism he has failed to make an impact on international affairs and that the U.N. has weakened under his leadership, Mr Ban strongly disagrees.

He defends his achievement over his four-year tenure citing his commitment to raising money and awareness to those suffering from poverty, hunger and natural disasters. He also believes he's created greater transparency in an organization that is highly bureaucratic and often criticized as being ineffective.

Mr Ban is seeking a second five-year term as Secretary-General next year and all reports indicate he will achieve that. Serving as a diplomat for almost four decades, Mr Ban says he is committed to his work.

"My mandate and challenges are huge. I'm secretary-general of the U.N. and I am going to continue to devote time and energy to peace, security and human rights," he said.

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