UN leader Ban Ki-moon to visit Australia, NZ, Pacific

SYDNEY, Aug 31, 2011 (AFP) - United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon will visit Australia next month in the first trip to the country by a UN Secretary-General in more than a decade, officials said Wednesday.

The visit -- which will also take in New Zealand, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati and is expected to focus on climate change -- will be the first since then United Nations leader Kofi Annan toured in 2000.

Ban will arrive in Australia on September 3, before heading to New Zealand to attend the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland.

He will return to Australia from September 7 to 9 after visiting the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

"This will be the first visit by a UN Secretary-General in over a decade," Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

Gillard said she would discuss Australia's support for UN-endorsed missions, including in Afghanistan and East Timor, as well developments in North Africa and the Middle East with the UN leader.

Also on the agenda will be the global response to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, the world economy, and international action to address climate change, she said.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said Ban was among guests, also including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, attending the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum.

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