The reconstruction of Lebanon, the conflict in Darfur and the situation in Somalia will be on the agenda when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon heads to Europe and Africa next week for his first overseas visit since taking the reins at the United Nations on 1 January.
Mr. Ban’s first stop will be Brussels, where he will meet European Commission officials and Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament, as well as Belgium’s King Albert II and its Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
The Secretary-General’s spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists today that Mr. Ban will then head to Paris to participate in a conference, to be hosted by French President Jacques Chirac, on the reconstruction and redevelopment of Lebanon following last year’s war between Hizbollah and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
The Lebanese Government is expected to present an economic reform plan to the conference that will include measures to tackle the country’s debt sustainability problem and restore its foundations for achieving sustained financial growth.
Mr. Ban then travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), home of the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world, where he hopes to hold talks with President Joseph Kabila on continuing the process of democratization after decades of war, dictatorship and misrule in the vast African country. He also plans to meet peacekeepers to express his personal gratitude for their efforts.
Ms. Montas said Mr. Ban will travel next to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the African Union (AU) summit, where the conflict in Darfur and the situation in Somalia are expected to dominate the agenda.
The final stop on the trip will be in Nairobi, where the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet staff at the UN regional office.
Ms. Montas also confirmed that Mr. Ban will attend a meeting of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet – which comprises the UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia – that is slated to be held in Washington, D.C., on 2 February.