Annan set to begin two-week visit to Europe this weekend

Annan set to begin two-week visit to Europe this weekend

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is set to begin this weekend a two-week trip to Europe, where he will hold talks with continental leaders on several issues, including Iraq, the Middle East and Africa.

According to a UN spokesman, the Secretary-General has been invited by Prime Minister Costas Simitis of Greece, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union, to join a meeting on Monday of Heads of State and Government to examine the latest developments in Iraq and the Middle East.

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General is scheduled to fly to Rome, where he will have lunch with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and then have an audience that evening with Pope John Paul II. While in Rome, Mr. Annan will also address the twenty-fifth anniversary session of the Governing Council of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development on Wednesday.

The Secretary-General is expected to leave for Paris that evening and on Thursday morning, meet with President Jacques Chirac before addressing the Africa-France Summit, which will be taking place over the next two days.

The UN spokesman said Mr. Annan would have a number of bilateral meetings in the margins of the Summit, which he will attend through Friday. The Secretary-General is also planning visits to Ankara and Athens, starting on 24 February.