Secretary-General to visit Myanmar later this week

29 June 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) comforts survivors of cyclone Nargis in Bebaye Township, Myanmar on 22 May 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Myanmar from 3 to 4 July, at the invitation of the Government, to highlight key issues such as the need to release all political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, it was announced today.

Mr. Ban, who last visited the country in the wake of the devastating Cyclone Nargis last May, “looks forward to returning to Myanmar to address directly with the senior leadership a broad range of issues, including longstanding concerns to the United Nations and to the international community,” his spokesperson, Michele Montas, said.

The Secretary-General, she added, believes that the issues of political prisoners, the resumption of dialogue between the Government and opposition to achieve national reconciliation, and setting the stage for credible elections “cannot be left unaddressed at this juncture of the country’s political process.”

Further, he considers building on the joint humanitarian effort following his visit to Myanmar last May in the aftermath of Nargis, which killed nearly 150,000 people, to be also essential.

“The Secretary-General believes that the sooner these issues are addressed, the earlier Myanmar will be able to move towards peace, democracy and prosperity,” Ms. Montas said. “He looks forward to meeting all key stakeholders to discuss what further assistance the United Nations can offer to that end.”

Mr. Ban is currently on his way to Japan, where, upon his arrival tomorrow night, he is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone. While in the country, he will also meet with Prime Minister Taro Aso and Japanese business leaders.

Next week, he will embark on a trip to Europe, which will take him to Switzerland, Ireland and Italy.

On 6 July in Geneva, the Secretary-General will open the substantive session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and address the Second Global Review of Aid for Trade, organized by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

While in the Swiss city, he will also open ECOSOC’s Innovation Fair and meet with donors at the World Health Organization (WHO) on the influenza A(H1N1) virus.

Mr. Ban will then travel to Ireland for his first official visit from 6 to 8 July, and he plans to discuss the country’s cooperation with the UN, especially regarding peacekeeping operations, with President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Foreign Minister Micheál Martin and Defence Minister Willie O’Dea.

At the Dublin Castle in the Irish capital, he will give a speech on peacekeeping at an event facilitated by the Institute for International and European Affairs.

The Secretary-General will wrap up his European trip in L’Aquila, Italy, where he will press leaders attending the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations for greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions; increased funding for the African development targets set at the G8 gathering in Gleneagles, United Kingdom, in 2005; and bolstered support for developing countries seeking to weather the economic crisis.


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