UN chief urges L. America to be more active at UN
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on Latin American countries to participate more actively at the UN and hailed the region's transition from decades of violent conflicts to an era of peace and stability, Xinhua reported.
"My visit to South America has come at a moment of opportunity, hope and change," Ban said, adding that many Latin American countries have "fulfilled a successful transition towards democracy" despite the "very difficult periods for decades."
"I am convinced that the region could perform a bigger role in the UN and the UN can play an even bigger role in the region," said Ban, who arrived in the Uruguayan capital Tuesday on a Latin American tour to seek support for his bid to win a second term as head of the United Nations.
Meeting with Uruguayan President Jose Mujica and Foreign Minister Luis Almagro, Ban had a tight schedule Wednesday.
He visited the UN National School of Peace Operations in Uruguay, where the nation's soldiers and other military personnel are trained before joining UN peace missions, and thanked the troops for their participation and commitment.
On a per capita basis, Uruguay "has contributed with more staff for these tasks" than any other nation worldwide, Ban said.Uruguay, through its active participation in UN peace missions, has given a "present to the people of the world and the hope of a better life in peace," he said.
Uruguay's Acting Defense Minister Jorge Menendez said the South American country has the political will to increase its contribution to UN missions.Ban also visited Independence Square in the capital to place a wreath in honor of the 27 Uruguayan soldiers who have died in UN peace missions.
He visited a prison offering a new model for rehabilitation of prisoners in the Montevideo suburbs of Punta de Rieles, and expressed satisfaction with improvements in the country's prison system which the UN had denounced as recently as 2009 as being overcrowded.