UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday he looks forward to "a new era of strong and effective partnership" with the United States under President Barack Obama who shares many of the same goals as the United Nations.

Ban, who just returned to New York from a 10-day Mideast trip aimed at getting a cease-fire in Gaza, congratulated Obama on his inauguration "with great optimism."

"More than ever before, the challenges we face as a community of nations are global in scope," Ban said in a statement. "Economic uncertainty. Climate change. Pressing issues of peace and security, including disarmament and non-proliferation. The multiple crises of food, energy and human development. By their nature, these are issues that require strong and collective responses."

In his inaugural address, Ban said, "president Obama was explicit in committing his administration to tackling all of these problems, urgently and decisively."

"He spoke of the need to 'harness the sun, the winds and soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.' He expressed his determination to 'roll back the specter of a warming planet' with a more sustainable, responsible U.S. energy policy. He vowed to work with developing nations to 'make farms flourish and let clean water flow, to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds,'" Ban said.