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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Chief Seeks Putin's Backing for 2nd Term

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Moscow on Tuesday for talks with President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials, the last leg of an unofficial campaign trip as he bids for a second five-year term.

Russia is the only permanent member of the UN Security Council that has not yet publicly supported the re-election of the 63-year-old Ghanaian, whose term expires Dec. 31.

"We agreed that in this interdependent world we need the United Nations more than ever," Annan told reporters after more than an hour of what he called "good and useful" talks with Putin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Before the meeting, Putin greeted Annan jovially and said, "It's Russia's position that the role of the United Nations should be enhanced." Putin has championed a greater UN role in some international conflicts, and the concept of a "multipolar world" to counterbalance U.S. global dominance.

Annan said the leaders reviewed the conflicts in the Balkans and the Middle East and UN sanctions on Iraq, which Russia opposes.

Annan told Itar-Tass that he would also discuss nuclear nonproliferation. Moscow is one of the most determined opponents to the U.S. plan to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and construct a limited national missile defense.

After the talks, he said the missile defense plans weren't discussed in detail, but added, "I've had the chance to state my position clearly, which is that we need to build on international treaties and disarmament treaties which exist."

The UN chief did not mention the war in Chechnya, which has unleashed a flood of refugees in the North Caucasus region and prompted international criticism.

Russian officials refused to say whether Moscow was preparing to add its voice to the growing chorus of support for a second Annan term as UN chief.

His marriage to Swedish artist and lawyer Nane Lagergren gives Annan an unusual link to Russia.

His wife is the niece of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from Nazi death camps in World War II but was later arrested by Soviet forces. Russia officially acknowledged for the first time last December that he had been a victim of Josef Stalin's purges.

The permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — can veto a candidacy, a power Washington used to deprive Boutros Boutros-Ghali of a second term in 1996.

Last month China, which usually leaves its position open until the last minute, backed Annan for a second term, citing broad African support and his performance in office since 1997.

France and the United States have already endorsed him and Britain is known to be his strong supporter. Moscow is not expected to block his reappointment.

The low-key but personable career diplomat has avoided the spiky relationship with Washington that dogged his predecessor.

Some countries want the election, normally held at the end of the year, to be brought forward to June. After an initial vote in the 15-member Security Council, a vote is held in the 189-nation General Assembly.

(Reuters, AP)