Crises and other issues of global concern were covered in meetings between United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a range of world leaders and senior government officials today, on the sidelines of the high-level debate taking place in the General Assembly, taking place at UN Headquarters in New York.
In the meeting between the Secretary-General and Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, the two men exchanged views on the Asian nation’s political reforms, as well as socio-economic development and national reconciliation.
They also discussed the recent outbreak of violence in Rakhine state, in the country’s west, and the immediate and long-term perspectives to promote inter-communal harmony and address the root causes of the tension there, including developmental efforts – the President confirmed the country would address the long-term ramifications of this question.
Mr. Ban called for concerted efforts in addressing the situation in Kachin state – which has experience mass displacement since fighting broke out between Government troops and rebels last year – and commended the President’s political vision and leadership, and encouraged him to continue to focus on the reform process and on its consolidation. He also reiterated the readiness of the UN to continue to support the reform process in Myanmar, including through peacebuilding activities and his own ‘good offices.’
In addition to other methods, the UN chief uses his ‘good offices’ – steps taken publicly and in private, drawing upon his independence, impartiality and integrity – to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.
Meeting with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, the Secretary-General stated his appreciation for Bangladesh’s active role in the United Nations, including in peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
They exchanged views on the situation in Bangladesh, including the importance of credible and free elections, and the efforts being made in the education and health sectors, with Mr. Ban acknowledging Bangladesh’s hosting of large numbers of refugees from Myanmar.
Mr. Ban and the Bangladeshi leader both noted Myanmar’s transition process and the need for common efforts to help resolve the Rohingya situation.
In his meeting with Iraqi Vice-President, Khudier Alkhuzae, the Secretary-General urged Iraq to fulfil expeditiously its outstanding Chapter VII obligations pertaining to Kuwait, and reiterated the world body’s commitment to assist Iraq and Kuwait to normalize their relations. Iraq had invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Mr. Ban also thanked the Government of Iraq for its cooperation with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and on the peaceful relocation of former residents of Camp Ashraf, reiterating the urgent need for UN Member States to offer resettlement opportunities to recognized refugees.
Located in eastern Iraq and once made up of several thousand Iranian exiles, many of them members of a group known as the People's Mojahedeen of Iran, the camp’s residents have been relocated, over recent months, to a new location, prior to their eventual resettlement in third countries. UNAMI staff members have been monitoring the human rights and humanitarian situation during the relocation process.
The meeting between the Secretary-General and Uganda’s Vice-President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, saw the two men discuss the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the need to pursue political efforts to put an end to the conflict in the country’s east, which has caused concern about its potential to destabilise the wider Great Lakes region.
The eastern DRC – particularly its provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu – has been plagued by violence in recent months, primarily by a group called the M23 – made up of renegade soldiers from the country’s national army.
In addition, Mr. Ban and Vice-President Kiwanuka reviewed the situations in Somalia and between Sudan and South Sudan.
In the meeting between the Secretary-General and the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, the two exchanged views on ways of revitalizing the negotiations to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem and discussed the work of the bi-communal technical committees.
They also discussed hydrocarbons exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, and Mr. Ban recalled that these resources could prove very beneficial for both the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot communities and finance a settlement for the island, which has been divided since inter-communal violence erupted in 1964.
Ireland’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2012, and UN-OSCE cooperation, were discussed in the Secretary-General’s meeting with the Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, who also serves as Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE.
Mr. Ban expressed his hope that, during Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union (EU), the EU would continue to be a strong supporter and advocate for tackling climate change, the attainment of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the establishment of a vigorous post-2015 development agenda.
The UN chief and the Irish official also exchanged views on Palestine, the Middle East peace process and on the situation in Syria, agreeing on the urgent need for the international community to help broker solutions for these issues.
The process of national dialogue in Mauritania, the Western Sahara issue and the situation in Mali came up for discussion in the Secretary-General’s meeting with Mauritania’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hamady Ould Hamady.
Mr. Ban reiterated the world body’s readiness to support the process of national dialogue in the African country, and encouraged the Government to promote inclusiveness throughout the implementation of that process.
On the issue of Western Sahara, the UN chief thanked Mauritania for its support to the UN-led mediation process, and he also sought the views of Mauritania on the implications of the security and humanitarian situation in Mali encouraging it to continue to play a positive role to achieve stability in the region.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. UN Photo/E. Schneider
Meeting with the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the UN Secretary-General expressed his appreciation of the OIC’s efforts in forging a peaceful political solution to the Syrian crisis.
In addition to the Middle Eastern country’s situation, the two men also spoke about Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Mr. Ban indicated the importance of the situation there being treated carefully because of the potential wider implications it could have on the overall reform process in Myanmar, as well as on other countries.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. UN Photo/E. Schneider
Developments underway in the Arab world, particularly in Syria and Yemen, were subjects of discussion in the Secretary-General’s meeting with his counterpart at the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Dr. Abdulateef Bin Rashed Al-Zayani.
Regarding Syria, Mr. Ban emphasized the critical need for unity in the context of finding a solution to the on-going crisis, and noted that much more needs to be done to stem the flow of arms so as to prevent the further militarization of the conflict.
The Secretaries-General of the two organizations recognized the need to build on the efforts made to date with regard to Yemen’s transition process.
They also discussed the negative repercussions, including the tragic loss of life, linked to an anti-Islam video, with Mr. Ban condemning the recent violence that it caused, and with both men noting the important role of the international community in combating intolerance and incitement to violence based on religion or belief.
Cuba’s contribution to peace efforts in Colombia, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the participation of Gisela Alonso in the High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda were some of the subjects discussed in the meeting between the Secretary-General and Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.
Mr. Ban also congratulated Cuba for its upcoming chairmanship of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations.
Tajikistan’s continued engagement in regional efforts to promote the stability and development of Afghanistan was welcomed in the Secretary-General’s meeting with the Central Asian country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hamrokhon Zarifi.
The two men discussed issues concerning the Roghun hydropower station, recent developments in Tajikistan, in addition to the situation in Afghanistans. They also noted the importance of regional cooperation on water and energy management.
In his meeting with Romania’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Titus Corlatean, the Secretary-General discussed the situation in Romania and the Transnistrian conflict in neighbouring Moldova, and welcomed the resumption of the so-called “5+2” negotiation process linked to the conflict.
Mr. Ban commended Romania for its support to the democratic transitions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa region, and encouraged it to continue its sharing of best practices and other contributions in this regard.
Also on Saturday, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, met with Mr. Corlatean, and discussed the situation in Romania and the Transnistrian conflict. Mr. Eliasson also commended Romania’s contributions towards supporting democratic transitions, especially in North Africa, and the two men also discussed how to enhance common efforts in the area of the rule of law, human rights and mediation, and the importance of collaboration with regional organisations.