UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon makes first visit to Russia

Other News Materials 9 April 2008 15:14 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Moscow Wednesday to meet with Russian leaders in his first three-day visit to Russia, one of the five veto powers on the UN Security Council.

Ban began meetings with President Vladimir Putin and president- elect Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday, UN officials in Moscow said.

While Russia backed Ban to head the Security Council two years ago, Moscow has reacted sourly to his stance toward Kosovo and resents what it views as unbalanced US influence on the international organization.

Ahead of talks with Ban Wednesday, Medvedev reiterated Russia's view that "Any attempts to solve the international problems in violation with UN resolutions, as was in case with Kosovo ... are counterproductive."

In an apparent reference to US unilateral engagement in Iraq, Medvedev added that "Any action to resolve international problems without UN involvement and in breach of UN resolutions is unacceptable," news agency Interfax reported.

Russia, newly assertive in world politics buoyed by high oil profits, has looked to increase the weight of international institutions such as the UN in international relations in an effort to balance against US hegemony.

It was irritated by Ban's pro-US comments on a visit to the state of Texas in February when he endorsed US international leadership, saying "The UN has no better friend than the US."

On Wednesday, Medvedev welcomed Ban saying, "No country in the world can unilaterally resolve the world's problems."

"Russia will always support the United Nations," Medvedev said.

According to the business newspaper, Kommersant, Medvedev will discuss the possibility of increasing Russia's annual contribution in an effort to match the United State's annual UN budget of about 500 million dollars.

Ban is to meet with Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday as well as Moscow Patriarch Alexei II and other civil leaders.

Since becoming secretary general in January 2007, Ban has visited Washington, Paris and London, but not Moscow and Beijing. Those are the capitals of the UN council's five permanent members, who hold veto power over UN activities and programmes.