On a one-day official visit to Washington, D.C., Secretary-General Kofi Annan today met with senior members of the United States Congress to discuss issues of mutual concern, including regional hotspots such as Iraq and the Balkans as well as the AIDS pandemic and the United Nations budget.
The Balkans, the Middle East, Iraq and peacekeeping missions in Africa, topped the agenda of Mr. Annan's morning session with Representative Richard Gephardt, the Democratic Minority leader, and three members of the House Appropriations Committee -- David Obey, Nita Lowey and Nancy Pelosi.
According to a UN spokesperson, that meeting also touched on the Secretary-General's call to action against HIV/AIDS. When the issue of the UN budget came up in the discussions, the Secretary-General's top financial official, Under-Secretary-General for Management Joseph Connor, emphasized that the world body's cost outlays had not grown since 1994.
The meeting was followed by a question-and-answer session with over 30 members of the House International Relations Committee, including Chairman Henry Hyde and ranking minority member Tom Lantos. Participants raised a broad range of issues, including the Secretary-General's proposed Global Fund for AIDS and Health, recent elections to the UN Human Rights Commission, and political hotspots such as the Middle East and the Balkans.
The UN spokesperson said that the discussions also touched on the possibility of the United States rejoining the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which the US had left in the 1980s. One participant noted that legislation to permit the country to rejoin UNESCO had been introduced last week.
Following a private luncheon, Mr. Annan was scheduled to meet with the Editorial Board of The Washington Post and hold further talks with members of Congress.