UN chief arrives in India during first visit to South Asia
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in India Thursday on his first official visit to the South Asian region that will also take him to Nepal and Bangladesh, officials said.
Ban flew to New Delhi from Manila for a two-day visit during which he is due to discuss regional and international matters with Indian leaders, including the global financial crisis, reported dpa.
Terrorism, the food crisis as well as efforts to push democracy in India's eastern neighbour, military-ruled Myanmar, will also figure in the discussions, UN officials said.
Indian foreign ministry officials said New Delhi will make a renewed pitch for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
The country, with its population of 1.1 billion and fast economic growth, has been advocating UN reforms including the expansion of the council.
Ban was due to meet Sonia Gandhi, the chairwoman of the ruling United Progressive Alliance and Pranab Mukherjee, India's foreign minister, on Thursday evening.
His main talks with the India's leaders are scheduled for Friday when he meets with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil.
India is part of the G4 initiative, that also includes Germany, Brazil and Japan, who push for for permanent Security Council seats for the four countries as well as one or two countries from Africa to make the world body more democratic and reflecting the world's contemporary realities.
Singh made a renewed pitch for the expansion of the council during his speech at the UN General Assembly last month and expressed disappointment over the slow progress in discussions in this crucial area.
Ban's trip to Delhi is part of his three-nation tour which will also take him to Nepal and Bangladesh.
In Nepal on Friday, Ban will meet Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, and is later scheduled to address a special session of the Constituent Assembly.
He is also slated to visit Lumbini in southern Nepal, the birth place of Buddha.
In Bangladesh, the secretary general is expected to meet with President Iajuddin Ahmed and other senior government officials.
He will meet with UN staff in the country and visit local sites for micro-financing and disaster reduction and climate adaptation activities, UN officials said.