On margins of Palestinian session Annan holds wide-ranging talks on world crises

1 March 2005
Annan with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice

Although the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the main subject of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's visit to London today, he took advantage of the presence of other top leaders to hold wide-ranging discussions on some of the world's other major trouble spots.

On the margins of the London Conference in Support of the Palestinian Authority, convened by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Annan met with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa.

In all three meetings, he discussed developments in Iraq as well as in Syria and Lebanon, where last month's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has led to renewed calls for the withdrawal of some 14,000 Syrian troops.

Security Council resolution 1559 of last September calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon and last month Mr. Annan said he hoped there would be clear signs of a Syrian withdrawal by April.

With Mr. Moussa, he also discussed the situation in Sudan where the UN is preparing to launch a large peace-building operation following an accord between the Government and rebels in the south that ended Africa's longest-running civil war and could lead to the return home of 4.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons.

The UN is also seeking to end conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region where fighting between rebels, the Government and paramilitary forces has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the displacement of nearly 2 million others and what a UN-appointed inquiry commission calls massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.

With Mr. Barnier the Secretary-General also discussed Côte d'Ivoire, where the UN has another mission that is seeking to cement peace between the Government and rebels.

After meeting with Ms. Rice, he told reporters he had also discussed UN reform as well as Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), both of whom have nuclear programmes that have raised concerns with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA).

Nepal, where Mr. Annan recently called for the full restoration of democracy after King Gyanendra dissolved parliament and declared a state of emergency, also figured on the agenda.

He later met with Mr. Blair for similar worldwide discussions and was scheduled to have talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the evening.


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