In Rome, Annan meets with African leaders to discuss regional concerns
Meeting with several African leaders attending the five-year follow-up to the World Food Summit in Rome, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today expressed hope that conflicts on the continent could be resolved quickly so that a climate conducive to economic development could emerge.
Meeting with President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Mr. Annan said that no one wanted to invest in a bad neighbourhood, according to a UN spokesperson. The Secretary-General voiced hope that in the next 18 months, the conflicts in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be resolved and the continent could have a more peaceful image to encourage foreign investment.
President Obasanjo and the Secretary-General also reviewed the security situation in West Africa, specifically how developments in Liberia affected the region as a whole, and discussed the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the upcoming meeting of the G-8 countries in Canada, spokesperson Marie Okabe said.
The subjects of NEPAD and the G-8 Summit were also raised during the Secretary-General's talks with Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, according to Ms. Okabe.
In addition, the Secretary-General met one-on-one with the President of Sierra Leone, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Mr. Annan later met with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, along with James Morris, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), to discuss ways to speed up food aid to Zimbabwe and the other southern African countries currently on the brink of famine.
Mr. Annan also had meetings with the Vice Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabao, President Andres Pastrana Arango of Colombia, President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea. In addition, the Secretary-General's programme included a meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki.