Iraq, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine and the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region were discussed during talks today in Cairo between President Hosni Mubarak and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the Egyptian leader is a key partner in dealing with these hotspots.
“I count on the counsel President Mubarak and the support of Egypt to address all the problems in this region,” Mr. Ban said at a press encounter with Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit after the meeting.
The Secretary-General observed that “In Lebanon, political instability threatens to undermine Security Council resolution 1701, which brought to an end to last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hizbollah,” adding that he and President Mubarak had agreed to work together to solve the issues involved.
Concerning the formation of the Palestinian National Unity Government, the Secretary-General said, “We agreed that it is necessary for the international community to encourage this ongoing peace process” and added that he looks forward to meeting with Israeli, Palestinian and other leaders in the region.
“On Iraq, the President and I agreed on the gravity of the situation in that country and the need to resolve internal disputes while encouraging the constructive engagement of all neighbours,” Mr. Ban said.
The Secretary-General placed particular emphasis on the discussions concerning Darfur, where the UN has been trying to deploy a hybrid force with the African Union. “I expect that President Mubarak and other leaders in the region will take the time and look at this issue more seriously to help the efforts of the Untied Nations and the African Union to address this issue as soon as possible,” the Secretary-General said.
“I explained to him that while the issue was mainly dealt with between the United Nations and the African Union, at this time, Arab Leaders should also try to help.”
Mr. Ban also met with Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General the League of Arab States. “We have had good discussions, very comprehensively on major issues,” he told the press following their meeting. “I am counting upon his continued support and cooperation as we work together towards building a more prosperous and secured peace in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.”
Asked about the UN’s role in Iraq, Mr. Ban, who travelled to Egypt from Baghdad, said while there he was “able to experience in person all the ongoing violence and security concerns.” A mortar attack took place an open field about 100 metres from the compound where Mr. Ban and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were holding a joint press conference on Thursday.
“The United Nations has been participating and contributing during the last four years in many aspects including political facilitation and social and economic reconstruction efforts, as well as humanitarian assistance and this will be continued by the United Nations,” Mr. Ban said.
“But as you may agree, the situation on the ground has largely constrained the activities of the United Nations,” he added, pledging to “consider in what way, and what kind of contributions, and how we can increase our presence there to help the Iraqi people to be able to enjoy and recover their security – politically and socially and also enjoy genuine freedom and democracy.”