UN chief briefs Congress on North Korea, Syria

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An aide for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said the UN chief meets with lawmakers about once every couple of years to hear their views. The last meeting was in March 2011.

"We expect Senators to discuss with the Secretary General the role the UN plays in facilitating resolutions to crises around  the globe," the aide said. "Today, more than 97,000 UN peacekeepers stand watch in 16 missions across the globe, often in difficult and dangerous places. The UN has played an essential role in helping to bring about the peaceful separation of Sudan and South Sudan; in helping to restore democracy in Cote d’Ivoire; in bringing life-saving vaccinations to children through UNICEF; and in helping to create food security through the Food and Agriculture Organization. 

"Senators will also likely discuss the role of the UN in Syria, Iran and North Korea. Yesterday, the UN Security Council condemned N Korea’s nuclear test and pledged to take additional measures against the country in the coming days."

Nesirky said the U.N. would put out readouts after the closed-door meetings. Ban is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department on Thursday.

The visit comes as the U.N. Security Council is debating new sanctions on North Korea following Monday's nuclear test. The world body is also trying to resolve the 23-month-old civil war in Syria, halt Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program and lay the groundwork for an international operation to retake northern Mali from Islamist militants.