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UN Chief To Attend Hiroshima, Nagasaki Ceremonies

A memorial to the victims of the Hiroshima bombing
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Japan ahead of ceremonies marking the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has said the world must strive to become free of nuclear weapons.

Ban began his tour of Japan in Tokyo, where he met Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and was expected to meet Prime Minister Naoto Kan on August 4 before heading to the two cities in western Japan.

More than 140,000 people were killed instantly or died in the days and weeks after the first atomic bomb struck Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Three days later, a U.S. plane dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing more than 70,000 people.

Japan announced its surrender to U.S. forces on August 14-15 and signed formal surrender documents weeks later.

In a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, in April 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged "clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

compiled from agency reports