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Ban wants closer U.N.-Israel ties

The U.N. secretary-general said he wants to improve the world body’s relationship with Israel and increase Israeli involvement in U.N. activities.In a statement released to coincide with the American Jewish Committee’s 101st anniversary dinner May 3, Ban Ki-moon said he attaches “great importance to strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and Israel. I view Israel as a full member of the community of member states, with the same rights and obligations as any other. Israel also has a wealth of experience to offer the organization, and much to gain by participating in the U.N.’s efforts for peace, development, and human rights.”Jewish groups praised Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, for introducing Holocaust commemoration at the world body, but faulted him for not being aggressive enough in countering its anti-Israel bias. Ban had planned to attend the AJCommittee dinner but was called to Egypt for last-minute talks on Iraq.