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Ban Ki-moon embarks on four-nation West African tour in late April

Ban Ki-moon embarks on four-nation West African tour in late April

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will embark later this month on a four-nation tour of West Africa that will take him to Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, a spokesperson for the United Nations announced today.

Accompanied by his wife, Yoo Soon-taek, Mr. Ban’s first stop will be Accra, Ghana, where he is scheduled to address the opening of the 12th UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 20 April. He also plans to meet with Ghanaian President John Kufuor and Foreign Minister Akwasi Osei-Adjei.

From Accra, he will travel to the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where he will meet with the country’s leadership, as well as with members of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the UN Country Team.

Following that, Mr. Ban plans to travel to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, where a bilateral meeting is planned with President Blaise Compaoré, the Facilitator of the Inter-Ivorian Dialogue and current Chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The Secretary-General’s final stop is Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where meetings are planned with President Laurent Gbagbo, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and with opposition leaders and civil society. He will also meet with the leadership of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

Meanwhile, Mr. Ban wrapped up a three-day official visit to Russia today, meeting with UN staff working in Moscow.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr. Ban said he was strongly encouraged in his meetings in Russia, including with President Vladimir Putin, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as by the country’s commitment to the central role of the UN and to multilateralism.

The Secretary-General and Mr. Lavrov held a tête-à-tête meeting during which they discussed Kosovo. They followed that with a larger meeting, in which their delegations discussed Kosovo; the Middle East, including the meeting to be held in Moscow this summer on that subject; Darfur, and the need for helicopters for the UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation (UNAMID) there; and Afghanistan.

The delegations also discussed Cyprus, during which the UN’s political chief, B. Lynn Pascoe, briefed the meeting’s participants on his recent visit to the Mediterranean island and the region.