Creating an integrated world community in which nations can discuss global issues such as security and aid for developing countries together with the United Nations is one of the biggest challenges for the 21st century, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday in Tokyo.

“We have made for ourselves in the 21st century a world that most people characterize with the term globalization,” Clinton said in a lecture on globalization at the United Nations University. “But I prefer the word interdependence, because it clearly conveys that there is more than economics at work.”

Clinton, 55, came to Japan after attending East Timor’s independence ceremony Sunday.

In his lecture, Clinton said that while interdependence between nations is good — citing the unprecedented global political cooperation seen since the end of the Cold War and the building of the European Union — occurrences like the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the U.S. and the continuing agony in the Middle East remind us that the world is still far from achieving the status of an integrated global community.

“The great challenge of the first decade of the 21st century, therefore, is to move from interdependence to integration with a real global consciousness,” he said.

Clinton said this could be brought about by the creation of a global security strategy and increased international cooperation, such as aid contributions. The United Nations will serve an indispensable role in this endeavor, he added.

The most pressing issues in a global security strategy include the eradication of the al-Qaeda network, persuading the North Koreans to abandon their missile program, and doing more to eradicate weapons of mass destruction, he added.

The global economy may have lifted many people out of poverty in the last 20 years, but half of the world’s people live on less than $2 dollars a day and 130 million children still don’t attend school, he said.

“For a few billion dollars, you can get all children to go to school,” he said. “We have built the world without walls. We have opened each other’s possibilities, if we wanted the world our children deserve, we will have to make it an integrated world community.”

Prior to the lecture, Clinton visited Nihon University, which awarded him an honorary doctorate degree for his contribution to U.S. prosperity and his leading role in efforts to achieve world peace.

Help Mideast: Clinton

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton asked Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday to increase Japan’s role in the Middle East peace process.

During an hourlong meeting at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Clinton urged Japan to participate in the U.S.-led mediation effort between the Israelis and the Palestinians because Japan has relatively “little political bias” in the area, according to a Foreign Ministry official who briefed reporters.

Koizumi replied by saying Japan has urged both sides to practice self-restraint at every opportunity and will continue to do so. Koizumi told Clinton that he believes the U.S. is the most influential nation on this issue, the official said.

Clinton gave Koizumi a pep talk on his reform challenges during the talks, telling him to never give up, keep smiling and present a clear picture of what his reform results will be like, the official said.

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