UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - United Nations leader Ban Ki Moon on Wednesday called on the new pope, Francis I, to build on efforts to improve relations between the world's different religions.
In a statement welcoming the election of the new pontiff, Ban said he was certain that Francis I would "build on the legacy of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in the promotion of inter-faith dialogue."
The UN secretary general offered his "heartfelt congratulations" to the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.
"I look forward to continuing cooperation between the United Nations and the Holy See, under the wise leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis," he said.
Mr Ban said the United Nations and the Roman Catholic Church shared the "common goals" of promoting peace, social justice and human rights, and the eradication of poverty and hunger.
"We also share the conviction that we can only resolve the interconnected challenges of today's world through dialogue.
"I am certain that his holiness will continue to build on the legacy of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in the promotion of inter-faith dialogue which is at the heart of the Alliance of Civilisations initiative."
The Alliance of Civilisations is a UN-led effort that aims to ease tensions between the western and Islamic worlds.