In Beijing, Annan discusses regional hotspots with China's Foreign Minister

11 October 2004

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan held talks today in Beijing with China's Foreign Minister, reviewing key regional developments, including the nuclear programme in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the weekend's elections in Afghanistan.

During an extensive discussion between Mr. Annan and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing that continued through a working lunch, the two also examined the UN's role in Iraq, the Iranian nuclear issue, the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region and the situation in Myanmar, according to a spokesman travelling with the Secretary-General.

At a subsequent press conference, Mr. Annan was asked about the international conference on Iraq. "It is going to be an important meeting," he said, because it would bring together Iraq, its neighbours and other members of the international community.

But he said it was too soon to comment on whether the Iraqi resistance would be invited. "I think the underlying message of that conference is that stability of Iraq is in the interest of every country and that the international community should come together and do whatever it can, working with the neighbours and Iraq, to stabilize Iraq," he said.

Afterwards, the Secretary-General addressed students at Tsinghua University, where he said, "No visitor can help feeling the excitement of a great country developing at breakneck speed, and every day opening up new vistas of knowledge and opportunity to its citizens."

He called on China to help the world reach the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), warning that if it did not, there would be "terrible consequences for humanity."

Earlier Monday the Secretary-General met with Qian Qichen, a member of his High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenge and Change, which is due to present its report in December following a year's deliberation on how best to adapt the UN to today's world.

Mr. Qian talked of the Panel's deliberation on Security Council reform, preventive action, including intervention, and the composition of the UN Commission on Human Rights. The Secretary-General said he looked forward to meeting with the Panel members when they returned to New York in November for their final meeting.

Mr. Annan then met at the UN House in Beijing with the head of UN agencies, funds and programmes that work in China for a review of their activities. They reported on China's coming to grips with HIV/AIDS and its rapid economic growth, its fiscal reform, demographic policy, human rights issues and other matters.

While there, he also participated in a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the UN's presence in China, attended by senior Chinese officials as well as UN staff.

The Secretary-General, accompanied by his wife, Nane, then toured information booths that explained the UN's work in the country. Asked by a reporter about the AIDS problem in China, the Secretary-General said he was "very pleased" about recent progress. "The Government at the highest level has declared its support and determination to fight the disease," he said.

At the start of his official visit yesterday the Secretary-General met with Prof. Yongxiang Lu, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who described the Academy's work, including in the areas of agriculture and medicine.

Mr. Annan then met with Khalid Malik, the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Resident Representative in China, for a review of the world body's work in the country. Mr. Malik described the Chinese Government's increasing interest in the MDGs, a set of eight, time-bound targets that seek to restructure the world's social fabric, from slashing extreme poverty and hunger to curbing infant mortality and major diseases to improving access to education and health care - all by 2015.

 

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