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Ban Ki-moon heads to Rwanda following Eastern Europe trip

Ban Ki-moon heads to Rwanda following Eastern Europe trip

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today held high-level talks in Bratislava with senior Slovakian officials before heading to Kigali for an official visit to Rwanda.

Speaking to the press following his meeting with Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic, Mr. Ban said the two discussed Slovakia’s contributions to the causes of the United Nations, ranging from peace and security to development and human rights, as well as on key regional issues, especially in the Middle East and the Balkans, including Kosovo and Cyprus.

“On Kosovo, we shared the concern about the uncertainty in the situation on the ground and agreed to keep in close touch on the future developments,” said the Secretary-General of the Serbian province which the UN has administered since 1999. “My first and foremost priority will be on how best to protect human lives and maintain the UN legacy there.”

The Secretary-General said that in the weeks to come, he will closely “consult on the way forward with other leaders in the international community, including the Security Council, the European Union and the region.”

On Friday, Mr. Ban held a press encounter with Slovenia’s Prime Minister, Janez Janša, following what he called their “constructive meeting” on key issues.

“I will assure you that I will closely coordinate and cooperate with your Government and Prime Minister Janez Janša in carrying out and in addressing many important issues, including global issues like climate change and the Millennium Development Goals, and also other regional issues, just as the Prime Minister said – on the Balkans, Darfur, Lebanon, the Middle East and many other issues,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Ljubljana.

He said Slovenia’s reach exceeds its size, citing the country’s contribution of peacekeepers in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq. “Last year, more than 18 per cent of Slovenia’s armed forces took part in UN Security Council-mandated missions. And Slovenia has become a crucial partner in helping the western Balkans on their path to peace and prosperity,” he noted.

Following his trip to Rwanda, the Secretary-General is expected to go to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he will address the opening of the African Union summit meeting on 31 January.