Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today discussed a host of international flashpoints, including Syria, Somalia and Mali as well as bilateral issues, with Heads of State and Government and foreign ministers attending the 67th General Assembly General Debate.
The deteriorating situation in Syria, where more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 18 months ago and some 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid according to United Nations estimates, figured high on Mr. Ban’s talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Mr. Ban stressed the alarming regional implications of the situation and the need for the international community to work together in resolving it through a peaceful political process. The two men also welcomed recent progress in negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, and called for international action to address problems in Africa’s Sahel region.
In a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Secretary-General reviewed Turkey’s efforts to assist Syrian refugees in Turkey and the need for the international community to do much more to ameliorate the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the conflict.
Syria also figured on Mr. Ban’s talks with Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, with whom he also discussed the pressing need for additional resources for the Palestinian Authority and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provides aid, protection and advocacy for five million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory.
In his talks with Nigeria’s President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, Mr. Ban discussed the situation in Mali where the UN has voiced increasing concern over security and human rights violations after Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants seized the north of the West African country in January. In addition, drought and food insecurity has led to massive humanitarian displacement.
Mali also figured in Mr. Ban’s talks with Côte d’Ivoire’s Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, with whom he also discussed recent attacks and the fragile situation in a country where the UN played a major role in bringing stability after a civil war split the world’s largest cocoa producer into a Government-run south and a rebel-held north in 2002.
Mr. Ban thanked Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki for his country’s critical contribution to the UN-backed African Union force in Somalia (AMISOM), which is helping the Horn of Africa country’s Government forces deal with the Al Shabaab militant group, which has been pushed out of Mogadishu but still controls some areas, primarily in south-central regions.
In his talks with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasongo of Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Ban reaffirmed UN support for a peaceful settlement of its border dispute with Gabon by submitting the case to the International Court of Justice.
The Secretary-General told Guinea’s Special Presidential Envoy, François Lonseny Fall, that it was important make further progress in security sector reform in the West African country following the establishment of democracy after a military coup in 2008.
In his talks with African leaders, the UN chief stressed the need to combat terrorism in the Sahel region and the prime importance of sustainable development.
Turning to Europe, Mr. Ban reviewed with Demetris Christofias, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, efforts to reunify the divided island through UN-brokered talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders aimed at the eventual establishment of a federal government with a single international personality, consisting of a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status. They also exchanged views on regional challenges.
With Slovakian President Ivan Gašparovic, Mr. Ban discussed the central European country’s contributions to the work of the United Nations, including the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), while he reviewed the key challenges facing Moldova going forward in the reform process, including the fight against corruption, with that country’s president, Nicolae Timofti.
With Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Mr. Ban exchanged views on regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and Serbia’s role in encouraging reconciliation, including through the European Union-led dialogue with Pristina.
In their meeting, Princess Máxima of the Netherlands – Mr. Ban’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development – formally presented her Third Annual Report on the subject to the UN chief. He also discussed Iran, Syria, the Middle East peace process and Afghanistan with the Dutch Foreign Minister, Uri Rosenthal.
In a meeting with President Danilo Medina Sánchez of the Dominican Republic, the Secretary-General discussed education, job creation, food security and health, and acknowledged the support of the Dominican Republic to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.