Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met yesterday with the foreign affairs committees of the United States Senate and House of Representatives in Washington, DC, discussing an array of issues from United Nations reform to the situation of Iraqi refugees.
Mr. Ban had a working breakfast with the members of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Congressman Tom Lantos, and he later met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Senator Bill Nelson.
“In both meetings, the Secretary-General discussed United Nations reform, stressing his efforts towards greater transparency and accountability,” Michele Montas, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York today.
Mr. Ban also conferred with both groups on the UN’s reform agenda on peacekeeping, disarmament and political affairs.
On Iraq, he expressed his determination to increase the world body’s role in the war-torn country, but noted that UN staff need to receive proper protection.
Ms. Montas said that in both meetings, Mr. Ban also talked about border monitoring between Syria and Lebanon; the unity of command for the joint UN-African Union hybrid force to be deployed in Sudan’s Darfur region; the UN Human Rights Council; perspectives on Kosovo; and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
The Secretary-General thanked the House for passing a bill – submitted by the House Appropriations Committee – to lift the cap on peacekeeping funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a similar bill and is now subject to a full Senate vote before going before President George W. Bush.
Also yesterday, in an hour-long meeting, Mr. Ban invited President Bush to a high-level UN debate on climate change to be held this fall.
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General is expected in Lisbon, Portugal, for a meeting of the Middle East Quartet.