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NEW YORK (Kyodo) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday urged leaders set to gather at a conference in Hiroshima to “intensify efforts” toward nuclear abolishment, his spokesman said.

“The secretary general stresses the need to work together toward the day when governments no longer have a choice but to respond to the will of the people for a nuclear-free world,” Martin Nesirky said of Ban’s message to the Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020, to be held from Tuesday to Thursday.

In the message, the U.N. chief also urges world leaders, particularly those of the nuclear weapon states, to “visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to see firsthand the drastic reality caused by nuclear war.”

Ban will visit the two cities Aug. 5 and 6, beginning with Nagasaki. He will arrive in Tokyo on Aug. 3 for talks meet with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, as well as other officials.

From there he will go to Nagasaki for a brief visit and then move on to Hiroshima the same day. The next day he is to participate in the 65th peace memorial service marking Aug. 6, the day in 1945 when an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Three days later, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

While in the two cities he is expected to meet with atomic-bomb survivors.

“I have deep admiration for the hibakusha and their determination to tell the world about their experience of the horrors of nuclear weapons,” Ban also said in the message.

The conference is sponsored by the Mayors for Peace as a followup to the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference held in New York in May.

“Nuclear disarmament is often dismissed as a dream, when the real fantasies are the claims that nuclear weapons guarantee security or increase a country’s status and prestige,” Ban said. “Let us be clear: The only guarantee of safety, and the only sure protection against the use of such weapons, is their elimination.”

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