UN, NATO vow to cooperate on regional conflicts

The United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should work closely to help restore peace and security in places like Afghanistan, Kosovo and Darfur, the leaders of the two organizations said Wednesday.

Speaking after an informal meeting in Brussels with NATO's governing body, the North Atlantic Council, Ban said he appreciated NATO's contribution to peace and security around the world, which was done in close coordination with and under the mandate of the UN.

The two bodies need to cooperate to achieve their "common objectives," -- peace and security, prosperity, and protection of human rights around the world, he said.

"We are committed to working closely together in the future," said Ban, who was on his first overseas visit after taking the office of the UN chief at the beginning of the year.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer agreed with him, saying it is important for the two sides to enhance their relationship, as NATO has been increasingly operating under a UN umbrella or with the UN's blessing, such as in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Darfur.

The military alliance will continue to play its role in these regions, and for which it needs the support of the UN, he said.

Kosovo, a legal province of Serbia, has been administered by the UN since the NATO bombing campaign in 1999. NATO has more than 16,000 troops in Kosovo, the so-called KFOR, which is responsible for preserving peace and security there.

Brussels is the first leg of Ban's seven-nation visit, which is also to bring him to France and Ethiopia to attend key international meetings.

Ban will leave for Paris late Wednesday to attend Thursday's conference on Lebanon's reconstruction, which will be hosted by French President Jacques Chirac and attended by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Next week Ban will travel to Ethiopia to attend an African Union summit on Darfur and Somalia, when he is expected to push for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in support of the 7, 000-member African Union force that has failed to stop ceasefire violations in Sudan's Darfur region.

Earlier Wednesday, Ban held talks with European Union leaders, including foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Source: Xinhua

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