The contributions of small States to international cooperation are crucially important, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in Mongolia, calling for a fundamental compact between all countries based on an acknowledgement of mutual interest and adherence to the norms and standards of international law.
“Interdependence means not only that what we do affects each other, but that we must truly be able to depend on each other,” the Secretary-General said in an address this afternoon to the country’s parliament, or Great Hural. “And the United Nations is the forum where that understanding can take hold and, through peaceful dialogue and debate, bear fruit.”
Mr. Annan began his first-ever visit to Mongolia by meeting with Prime Minister Nambar Enkhbayar, who described the economic trials the country has faced since the democratic revolution of 1989, according to a UN spokesperson in New York. The Prime Minister expressed his hope that Mr. Annan would attend the third International Conference of New and Restored Democracies, which Mongolia is scheduled to host in June 2003.
In reply, the Secretary-General saluted the Prime Minister’s commitment to economic reform, development and human rights and said he would try and attend the conference. Afterwards, the two held a joint press conference prior to the Secretary-General’s address to the assembly.
Following his speech, Mr. Annan met with President Natsagiyn Bagabandi, who stressed Mongolia’s commitment to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and pledged support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to achieve UN reform, UN spokesperson Hua Jiang said.
The President also offered a military base outside the capital for use as a regional peacekeeping training facility. The Secretary-General thanked the President for the offer and said he would convey it to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General's wife, Nane Annan, met today with a nomadic herder family in a rural area south of Ulaanbaatar and learned about the challenges that nomadic herders face, especially after four consecutive years of drought, Ms. Jiang reported. Nomadic herding is the source of livelihood for 40 per cent of the Mongolian people.
Mrs. Annan also met female leaders to discuss the situation of women in the country, and visited the National AIDS Foundation, which supports local organizations in their efforts to fight the disease among vulnerable groups, notably sex workers, street children, mobile traders, the military and homosexuals.