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Sudan's President agrees with Annan on need for 'comprehensive' relief access

Sudan's President agrees with Annan on need for 'comprehensive' relief access

Kofi Annan with President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived today in Nigeria after a two-day visit to the Sudan, where President Omar Hassan El Basir has agreed on the need for "comprehensive" humanitarian access for relief aid deliveries in the war-ravaged nation.

"The President and I agreed that food needs to get to the needy, and that humanitarian workers must have free and unfettered access," Mr. Annan told reporters at the conclusion of his first-ever visit to the Sudan on Thursday.

The Secretary-General explained that parts of the country remaining out of the UN's reach would stay under discussion. "We have agreed that there is a need for comprehensive access, except in 18 locations, where for security reasons, the Government believes it is not safe for them to operate, but these will be kept under review and as the situation changes, those will be looked at and hopefully opened up," he said.

According to the Secretary-General, his talks with President El Basir focused on the Government's determination to press ahead and work with its neighbours and the international community for peace. "I think we do have a very good climate at the moment," he said. "There are very, very encouraging signs."

Also on Thursday, the Secretary-General received an honorary degree from the University of Juba.

Meanwhile, on his arrival Friday in Abuja, Nigeria, the Secretary-General met with the UN country team. His programme also included attending a roundtable with African business leaders on the challenges faced by the private sector in implementing the Global Compact and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).