Ban, President Obama discuss boosting US-UN cooperation

10 March 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with President Barack Obama

During a meeting today between United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States President Barack Obama, the two leaders agreed on the potential for stepped up US-UN cooperation on a host of issues.

“The United Nations and the United States share common visions and objectives for peace, stability, development and human rights,” Mr. Ban told reporters after the meeting at the White House in Washington.

Calling 2009 a “make-or-break” year, he said that collaboration is essential to address the crises on many fronts to turn this year into a “make-it-work” one, “full of optimism and resolution.”

The talks at the White House in Washington this afternoon covered numerous issues confronting the international community, including the global economic crisis and the need to assist the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Obama jointly called for strengthening efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight ambitious anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, noting that strides can be made even in a difficult economic climate.

With the next meeting of the so-called Group of 20 (G20) nations scheduled to be held next month in London, the Secretary-General said that “the leaders of industrialized countries should keep their commitments on the Millennium Development Goals and official development assistance [ODA], and help developing countries overcome food security and also help them to adapt and mitigate climate change.”

During their talks, the leaders underscored the importance of reaching an international agreement on climate change – with nations expected to agree on an ambitious successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases at a UN conference in Copenhagen in December – to both save the earth and promote sustainable economic recovery.

Mr. Ban, who arrived in Washington from a visit to Haiti with former US President Bill Clinton, told journalists that “the whole world is looking” to the US President for leadership on climate change, which he characterized as “an issue of our era.”

The leaders also discussed at length the situation in the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur at length.

Immediately after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Al-Bashir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur last week, the Government of Sudan decided to order the departure of 13 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Mr. Ban and Mr. Obama conferred on the impact of the aid groups’ ejections on the already-dire humanitarian situation in Darfur, stressing the need for a peaceful resolution.

Other issued discussed today included boosting civilian support for Afghanistan, facilitating cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Middle East peace process and assisting Iraq in its transition phase.


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