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France24, France / UN chief says job "very tough"

24/04/07 08h33 GMT+1

AFP News brief

UN chief says job "very tough"

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Almost four months after taking over as United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon says he feels "indescribable pressure" but also satisfaction.

The former South Korean foreign minister, in an interview with Seoul's Yonhap news agency, was quoted as saying he has had to reduce his sleep to five hours a night.

"It's a very tough job. There's indescribable pressure on my shoulders," Ban told Yonhap during a trip to the Qatari capital Doha.

However he described his peace-making role as satisfying and cited his effots to secure the release of 15 British sailors and marines detained by Iran last month.

Following Tehran's decision to release them, Ban said, "I later had a telephone conversation with the Iranian president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and he said the Iranian government put much of the UN secretary general's position into its decision."

Ban added: "I think my contribution to the world has grown much more than I expected."

In Doha Monday, Ban warned that developing nations will suffer serious damage if the Doha global trade talks do not succeed.

"Should this round of trade talks fail, serious damage will be done to those who can least afford it," he told delegates to a conference on development, democracy and free trade.

"The global trading regime needs to create opportunties for the poorest countries instead of leaving them at a disadvantage," he said.

In his interview with Yonhap, Ban praised South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun for his push for a free-trade pact with the United States despite fierce opposition from some political allies as well as farmers and activists.

The pact was agreed early this month after 10 months of tough negotiations.

But Ban took his homeland, the world's 11th-largest economy, to task over the size of its overseas aid contributions.

Seoul contributed 745 million dollars in aid to developing countries in 2005, up 75 percent from the previous year, and plans to increase this to 960 million by 2008.

South Korea's spending of 0.08 percent of its gross domestic product on overseas aid last year compares to the average of 0.36 percent by other members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

It plans to raise its spending to 0.35 percent by 2030 but Ban said that goal was still inadequate given the size of its economy.

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His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar,inaugurated the activities of the "the Doha 7th Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade " in the Ritz Carlton Hotel - Doha, today 23 April ,which will continue from 23 - 25 April 2007

 
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