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RM Issue #040131

Annan to address Canadian parliament

DAVOS, Switzerland (CP) - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has accepted an invitation to address the Canadian Parliament sometime in the first two weeks of March, Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Friday.

Martin, who met Annan privately at the World Economic Forum in this Swiss Alps resort on Friday, said the invitation to Annan was the first he has made to a world leader because he wanted to underline the importance of the United Nations at a crossroads in its history.

"If the United Nations doesn't work, we are severely hobbled," he told a news conference.

Martin said in a world where superpowers like China and India are emerging to rival the economic might of the United States, the United Nations will be critical over the next decade in trying to determine how the world is governed.

Annan will be the first UN secretary general to address Parliament in the more than 50-year history of the organization.

By inviting Annan to speak to MPs and senators, Martin wants to express the role that Canada can play in achieving change at the United Nations.

"Canada has a very important role to play in the world, it is a proactive role and it is a role that carries a wide number of areas," he said, citing the AIDS crisis in Africa and establishing the rule of law in failed states as examples of areas where Canada has made a difference.

But Canada must also be involved in the way the United Nations evolves to deal with new global challenges, the prime minister said.

"No country has as great an opportunity and as great a responsibility to make this happen as does Canada," he said.

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