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In Moscow, Annan lauds Putin's diplomacy on regional hotspots

In Moscow, Annan lauds Putin's diplomacy on regional hotspots

Kofi Annan with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow
Continuing an official visit to the Russian Federation, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hailed President Vladimir Putin's diplomacy concerning regional hotspots.

In his meeting with Mr. Annan, President Putin, who just returned from an Asian security conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, reported on his discussions with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, according to a UN spokesperson.

At a press briefing following their meeting, Mr. Annan expressed appreciation for President Putin's "personal involvement in conflict resolution," notably with respect to tensions between India and Pakistan as well as those in the Middle East. He faulted distorted media reports that President Putin had failed to make peace at Almaty when "the actual situation was that the two leaders failed to seize the opportunity offered by the conference and the efforts you and other leaders made to help resolve the conflict."

During their meeting, President Putin "indicated that he was prepared to continue in a peacemaking role between India and Pakistan, with the Secretary-General's help," spokesperson Marie Okabe reported.

Also today, the Secretary-General reviewed questions on India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Middle East during a working lunch with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Ms. Okabe said. "Their talks also focused on Iraq, terrorism, Georgia/Abkhazia, Chechnya and Kosovo," she added.

The Foreign Minister presented the Secretary-General with the Prince Gorchakov Medal, making him the first foreign recipient of the award. Mr. Annan said he would treasure the Medal "as a symbol of our partnership" in the pursuit of peace.

The Secretary-General later visited the Duma, Russia's Parliament. Speaking to reporters after his meetings there, he said discussions had touched on "the problem of the Middle East, between the Palestinians and the Israelis... Iraq, and generally the need to find peaceful, political and constructive solutions to crises around the world."

Earlier Wednesday, the Secretary-General travelled to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the walls of the Kremlin, and then met privately with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. In a subsequent address to a Conference on Sustainable Urban Development in Russia, the Secretary-General called attention to several key problems plaguing cities, including crime, environmental pollution and poverty. He stressed that efforts to combat these ills would not succeed without good governance.