APRIL 18 2007 21:04h

UN Secretary-General Invites Pope To Visit


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Pope Benedict to make an official visit to the U.N. headquarters in New York, the Vatican said.

The two leaders held 20 minutes of talks in the Pope's private library in the Apostolic Palace, with Ban presenting the Pontiff with a small crystal vase with a U.N symbol and receiving a framed gold medal in turn.

They discussed "re-establishing faith in multi-lateralism, reinforcing dialogue among cultures and touched on international situations that merit particular attention", the Vatican said in a statement.

A visit by Benedict to the United Nations would be his first to the world body and his first trip to the United States as Pontiff.

Two previous Popes have made official visits to the United Nations -- Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict's immediate predecessor John Paul II.

Church sources have speculated that the trip by Benedict, who was elected Pontiff two years ago, could take place later this year during the U.N. General Assembly.