Secretary-General Kofi Annan today headed to the Middle East for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as other key players seeking to push the peace process forward.
The Secretary-General, who is scheduled to arrive tonight in London, will travel on Tuesday to Egypt, where he has meetings scheduled on Wednesday morning with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the country's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher El Sayed. A UN spokesman said today that while in Cairo, Mr. Annan would also meet with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa.
Following his stop in Egypt, the UN Secretary-General will proceed to Damascus on Wednesday and Amman on Thursday. The following day he is scheduled to visit Lebanon. He will be in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Saturday and in Ramallah on Sunday.
Asked about the purpose of the trip, UN Spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters that Mr. Annan has been "very actively involved through phone contact with the leaders in the region and outside the region, and that will be done now face-to face as he visits the region and also the two parties."
Meanwhile, Terje Roed Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, is conducting meetings on the ground with United States special envoy William Burns, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and officials from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office "all of this in preparation for the Secretary-General's visit," Mr. de Almeida e Silva said.