At the start of his two-day official visit to the Russian Federation, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today held in-depth discussions with President Vladimir Putin on regional hotspots around the world, including the Balkans, the Middle East and Iraq.
The talks between the two leaders, which lasted almost an hour and a half, were described as "warm and friendly" by United Nations spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva. "The President said that Russia adhered to the founding principles of the United Nations and that he would like to see the world organization strengthened," the spokesman said.
The Secretary-General had raised the subject of the Balkans, urging "a regional approach in the search for stability there," Mr. de Almeida e Silva said, adding that the two leaders had exchanged detailed views on the future of Kosovo and then touched on the current situation in Chechnya.
"On the Middle East, they explored efforts to find a basis for the resumption of the peace process," the spokesman noted. The Secretary-General also briefed the President on his efforts to break the impasse between Iraq and the Security Council, and thanked the Russian Federation for its contributions to UN peacekeeping.
The Secretary-General, who is scheduled to have a working dinner with the Russian Foreign Minister tonight, will fly to Geneva on Thursday to attend the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly, which brings together ministers from the 191 members States of the World Health Organization (WHO).