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Call Repeated: Return Pakistan To Democratic Rule

Ban Ki-moon repeats call for return to democratic rule in Pakistan

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today repeated his call for a return to democratic rule in Pakistan and the release of all detained political leaders and lawyers as well as a United Nations human rights expert.

"I had a meeting with [Pakistani] Ambassador Munir Akram, at his request, and I again expressed my deep concern and regret at what had happened in Pakistan," Mr. Ban told reporters in New York.

"I also urged, strongly, that the Pakistani Government should return to democratic rules and procedures as soon as possible, and also urged the Pakistani leadership to release immediately all the detained political leaders, lawyers, and also the Special Rapporteur" on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir.

Asked whether he had spoken to General Pervez Musharraf, the Secretary-General said he had not but added, "I have been talking with leaders in the region to exchange views, and to monitor the situation."

Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Secretary-General expressed his "strong dismay at the detention of hundreds of human rights and opposition activists," including Ms. Jahangir. Mr. Ban today said he stands by that statement.

The Secretary-General made his comments just ahead of his planned trip to South America and Europe, which includes stops in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Tunisia and Valencia, Spain.

The Latin American countries, he said, "are political and economically very important members of the United Nations, and at the same time they play also a key role in our common efforts to address climate change issues."

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In Tunisia, he will attend the international conference on counter-terrorism. "This is going to be organized by the Tunisian Government, as well as by the Organization of the Islamic Conference," Mr. Ban said.

The Secretary-General will then travel to Valencia to participate in launching the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "This is going to be a very hectic, 12-day long trip, but it will be, I am sure very rewarding in terms of seeing for myself the climate change phenomenon and how the international community will generate again this political will through my visit," he said.

The trip, he said, is on "the road to Bali," where delegates from around the world will meet in December to try and hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, an internationally binding treaty on greenhouse gas emissions which expires in 2012.


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