Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed a commitment by transitional authorities in Niger, which suffered a coup d'état in February, to move swiftly back to constitutional order.

Mr. Ban held a meeting this morning at United Nations Headquarters with General Salou Djibo, the head of Niger's Transitional Government, who is in New York to take part in the UN summit on progress towards the social and economic targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

According to his spokesperson, Mr. Ban welcomed Gen. Djibo's commitment to a return to constitutional order, which is projected to culminate in April 2011 with the inauguration of the new president.

A coup took place in the impoverished Sahelian nation in mid-February when renegade soldiers stormed the presidential palace and deposed Mamadou Tandja, who had been accused by opposition figures and others of anti-democratic practices.

In his meeting today the Secretary-General also voiced the international community's support for Niger's efforts to overcome its food and malnutrition crisis, particularly for the most vulnerable segments of the country's population.

Persistent drought and creeping desertification have combined to reduce the size of harvests in landlocked Niger, and UN aid agencies have warned about the enormous scale of humanitarian suffering as a result.

Today's tête-à-tête also touched on the efforts of countries in the Sahara-Sahel region to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against terrorism.