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UN's Ban to Fast in Solidarity with World's Hungry

UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will join a 24-hour fast called by the U.N. food chief to show solidarity with the world's 1 billion hungry ahead of a food security summit next week, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

Children look out as they play inside an auto rickshaw in a shanty area in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Nov, 12, 2009. Nearly 200 million children in poor countries have stunted growth because of insufficient nutrition, with South Asia accounting for 83 million hungry children under five. Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, called on the world to join him in a day of fasting Saturday to highlight the plight of 1 billion hungry people. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.) U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf said on Wednesday he would not eat for 24 hours starting Saturday morning, and called on people around the world to follow suit.

"The secretary-general intends to join the fast over the weekend," U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters. She said that at the time of his fast Ban would be in transit to the food summit, which opens on Monday in Rome.

The FAO has called the November 16-18 summit with the hope of winning a clear pledge by world leaders to spend $44 billion a year to help poor nations become self-sufficient in food.

But a final draft declaration seen by Reuters includes only a general commitment to pump more money into agricultural development and makes no mention of a proposal to eliminate hunger by 2025.

Okabe said Ban was expected to say in his address to the summit that it was unacceptable that so many people were hungry when the world had more than enough food.

"He will also highlight the human cost of the recent food, energy and economic crises and say that these crises are a wake-up call for tomorrow," she said, adding that Ban would also stress the link between food security and climate change.

(Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Paul Simao)

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