The reconstruction of Lebanon and an upcoming international environmental summit topped the agenda during talks today in Paris between United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President Jacques Chirac.
Mr. Ban and Mr. Chirac discussed the results of yesterday’s donor conference on Lebanon, which is attempting to rebuild itself after last year’s war between the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah, as well as the country’s tense political situation.
During the conference yesterday Mr. Ban told participants that “political stability has to be the bedrock on which we consolidate economic recovery and reconstruction” in Lebanon, and he urged the nation’s neighbours “to fully respect its unity, independence and sovereignty. Lebanese democracy can only work if its leaders are free to make decisions and pursue reconciliation without fear of external pressure or interference.”
Today the Secretary-General and Mr. Chirac also discussed an environmental conference scheduled to be held in the French capital next week, UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
He said the two leaders talked about Côte d’Ivoire, the conflict in Darfur and the unstable situation on the common border between Darfur and neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Mr. Ban, who is undertaking his first overseas trip since becoming Secretary-General on 1 January, heads now to Africa, where he will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia and Kenya in the week ahead.
In the DRC, Mr. Ban will conduct talks in Kinshasa with President Joseph Kabila and other senior Government officials, as well as with peacekeepers and civilian staff of the UN’s largest mission. He will also address the National Assembly and make a brief visit to nearby Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, to meet with President Sassou Nguesso.
The Secretary-General will then go to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the African Union (AU) Summit, where he expects to discuss the Darfur crisis with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, as well as confer with the continent’s leaders on the conflicts in Chad, Somalia and Côte d'Ivoire.
Mr. Ban will end his African tour with a stop in Nairobi, where he will meet Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, followed by a trip to the Netherlands, where he will visit the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. While in the Netherlands, he will also meet with Queen Beatrix as well as the Dutch Prime Minister and senior officials.
After that, Mr. Ban is scheduled to go to Washington for a meeting of the Middle East Quartet – the diplomatic grouping comprising the UN, the United States, Russia and the European Union – which is seeking a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace.