ACTIVITIES OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C., 28-29 NOVEMBER
Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew to Washington in the morning of
28 November. His first meeting was with United States President George W. Bush at the White House for a review of humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan and progress on the political front as the Afghan parties were meeting in Bonn to try to reach a power-sharing arrangement. The Secretary-General encouraged a more active sharing of information between the United Nations and the coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan to increase the security for the international humanitarian aid effort.
The Secretary-General also raised the subject of the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development to take place in Monterrey, Mexico, starting on 7 March 2002, and he urged President Bush to attend. They also discussed the World Trade Organization meeting at Doha, Qatar, which agreed to launch a new round of global trade talks, and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, due to take place in Johannesburg, also in 2002.
Also present at that meeting were Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte, and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
The President and the Secretary-General were then joined, on the United Nations side, by Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Ruud Lubbers, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Kenzo Oshima, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator. The Secretary-General and his three senior humanitarian officials briefed the President and his delegation on the United Nations humanitarian work in Afghanistan.
Catherine Bertini praised the local truckers who, despite a dangerous security environment in Afghanistan, were bringing food into that country at a rate that would now permit them to reach their monthly goal of 52,000 metric tons for the second month in a row.
At a press encounter after that meeting, President Bush praised the work of the Secretary-General and what he called “his wonderful team” for their efforts to keep Afghans from starving. The Secretary-General replied that that job was not always easy, and although the food was getting into Afghanistan, secondary distribution to reach the needy was still a problem.
On the political front, the Secretary-General said that the Bonn talks were off to a good start. He added, “We need a partner. And that partner has to be an effective Afghan Government that is cohesive, that is stable, that will work with
the donor community to ensure that the resources that are being applied to rehabilitation and reconstruction are used effectively. The challenge is theirs.”
The Secretary-General then had a short private meeting with the President and the Secretary of State.
En route to the World Bank, he received a phone call from Dennis Hastert (Rep-Illinois), Speaker of the House, who was not able to join the Secretary-General in his meeting with the House leadership that afternoon.
The Secretary-General then held talks with World Bank President James Wolfensohn and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Horst Koehler. The Secretary-General thanked Wolfensohn for his cooperation in planning a seamless transition to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and avoiding any gaps between relief and rebuilding. With Koehler they discussed the IMF’s support for a bankruptcy programme for developing countries. They also went over preparations for the conferences on Financing for Development and Sustainable Development.
At noon, he spoke to the American Academy of Diplomacy, who presented him with their Excellence in Diplomacy Award. His speech was on the importance of diplomacy. He drew attention to the talks among Afghan factions under way in Bonn as an example of a case where “it is the parties themselves who must break the cycle of misery and violence”. (See Press Release SG/SM/8048.)
The Secretary-General then went to Capitol Hill, where he met with nine members of the House International Relations and Appropriations Committees. Henry Hyde (Rep-Illinois), Chairman of the International Relations Committee, welcomed the Secretary-General and congratulated him on receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Secretary-General briefed the members on the United Nations support for efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and to fight against global terrorism. He described United Nations humanitarian activities in Afghanistan as well as the Bonn process in search of a broad-based government.
In response to a question, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations was pressing the Afghan parties to include women in the political process and to advance women’s rights. They must see this as in their own national interest, he said. He added that the United Nations had trained large numbers of Afghan women as part of its aid programme and welcomed them back after a five year absence imposed by the Taliban.
Asked about the security environment for aid workers, the Secretary-General emphasized the need for more information sharing to safeguard aid convoys as well as aid workers.
The Secretary-General thanked Congressman Hyde for his support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Secretary-General then returned to the State Department for a meeting with Secretary of State Powell, during which they carried forward the discussions on Afghanistan that had taken place with the President in the morning, including of the security environment. The Secretary of State assured the Secretary-General that there would be a fuller sharing of information on the situation on the ground in Afghanistan to enhance the security of humanitarian workers.
They also discussed the importance of succeeding at the financing for development conference and the need for a constructive, focussed approach to it.
The Secretary-General stressed that the United States must continue to lead in the funding of the global fight against AIDS, as it sets the standard for others to follow. They also talked of progress in establishing the Global AIDS and Health Fund.
The Secretary-General then went back to Capitol Hill to meet with the Senate leadership. Joseph Biden (Dem-Delaware), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, hosted a meeting, which was also attended by Minority Leader Trent Lott (Rep-Mississippi), Jesse Helms (Rep-North Carolina), Mike Enzi (Rep-Wyoming), and Harry Reid (Dem-Nevada), the Majority Whip.
They discussed the military and security situations in Afghanistan as well as the Bonn talks on the political side. The Secretary-General emphasized the importance of empowering Afghan women and outlined his approach to reconstruction in the country.
He thanked the Senators for their support for the Global AIDS and Health Fund, and particularly Senator Helms for his efforts in raising awareness of the importance of the issue.
They also reviewed United Nations efforts to bring about equitable land reform in Zimbabwe.
That evening, he attended a dinner hosted by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, where former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright presented him with the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award, and the Secretary-General delivered a speech on democracy, emphasizing Afghanistan. (See Press Release SG/SM/8049).
“The appalling 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States focused the world’s attention on the reality that a collapsed and destitute State -– such as Afghanistan -– provides fertile ground for armed groups to plan and prepare unspeakable acts of terror, at home and abroad,” he said. “It must bring home a second reality, too -– that the answer to such violence and to sources of grievance which provide an excuse for such acts is more democracy, not less; more freedom, not less; more development aid, not less; more solidarity with the poor and dispossessed of our world, not less.”
The Secretary-General returned to New York in the morning of Thursday,
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