General Assembly President meets Italian leaders and Pope Benedict XVI

Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly

26 March 2008 – General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim has held talks today in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI and Italian Government leaders, discussing issues including climate change, United Nations reform, inter-religious dialogue and the fight against poverty during the first leg of his official European trip.

Mr. Kerim briefed the Pope in a private meeting on the priority issues of the General Assembly’s current session and how they relate to the religious leader’s visit to New York next month, where he is expected to address the 192-member Assembly on 18 April, a spokesperson for Mr. Kerim told reporters.

In a meeting with the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Mr. Kerim discussed the Alliance of Civilizations initiative and the role of the Holy See in the UN inter-religious dialogue, with the Cardinal noted that the Holy See closely supported the world body’s work in these areas.

Mr. Kerim’s talks with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema focused on climate change, the upcoming thematic debate in the Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Security Council reform and UN management reform.

The President and Mr. Prodi also discussed last December’s Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, with the Italian leader noting that it was important to both safeguard the achievement and build on it.

While in Rome, Mr. Kerim also met with the leaders of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which has had observer status with the General Assembly since 1994, and he paid tribute to their global humanitarian activities in helping the sick and the poor.

Tomorrow the President travels to Helsinki to meet with Finland’s President Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, Foreign Trade and Development Minister Paavo Väyrynen and its Speaker of Parliament Sauli Niinistö.


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