23 October 2002
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN TURKMENISTAN, AS WELL AS STOPOVER
IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, 22-23 OCTOBER
The Secretary-General and his delegation arrived in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in early afternoon, where he was met by three Deputy Prime Ministers and the Foreign Minister.
He later was greeted at the Presidential Palace by the President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov. They initially met one on one for over an hour, then joined their delegations and, in the presence of the press, they had an additional exchange.
The Secretary-General said that in their private conversation he and the President had discussed how best to consolidate the peace in Afghanistan, and he thanked Turkmenistan for its contribution to this effort. He also thanked the President for his plan to build a gas pipeline through Afghanistan, which would create jobs and help strengthen economic activities in that war-torn country, he said. Security is not just linked to Islamic extremism, he added, but also to economic and social development.
He said that the United Nations would be sponsoring a string of meetings on conflict prevention in Central Asia and hoped Turkmenistan would participate actively because it had much to contribute. On environmental issues, he said that no one knows the value of water better than a desert dweller, and he urged Turkmenistan to work with its neighbours on shared problems, such as the shrinking Aral Sea.
He congratulated Turkmenistan, as a neutral country, for its support of the treaty establishing the nuclear-free zone of Central Asia and said he looks forward to its completion. It will make a major contribution to nuclear non-proliferation, he commented. He also thanked the President for Turkmenistan’s contribution to the peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
That evening, the Secretary-General and his wife Nane were the guests of honour at a dinner hosted by the President of Turkmenistan. In a toast to the President, the Secretary-General stressed the inextricable link between democracy and development. (See Press Release SG/SM/8453.)
On Wednesday morning, 23 October, before leaving Ashgabat, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan stopped at the National Hippodrome to view a rare breed of horse known as the akhalteke.
- 2 - Press Release SG/T/2351
The akhalteke are said to be the oldest breed in the world, going back over 4,000 years. They are known for their speed and endurance. The horses on display were from the Ashgabat breeding farm, the largest of five such farms in Turkmenistan. The total population of the akhalteke in the country is only about 1,500.
The Secretary-General was offered a horse as a gift, and he selected a rare golden stallion named Kenar, whose colouring is unique to the breed.
The Secretary-General then flew to the United Arab Emirates, where he met with the President, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. He thanked the President for providing the plane that facilitated his visit to Central Asia. They then spent close to an hour discussing world issues.
In a comment to the press afterwards, he said that their talks had touched on the Iraq crisis, the Israel-Palestinian situation, Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism, including a tendency of some governments to abuse that fight to crack down on political opponents.
“We all expect Iraq to comply with the demands of the international community”, he said, adding that “war is not inevitable”. If Iraq did what is required of it, he concluded, “we may be able to avoid military action in the region”.
He then left Abu Dhabi for New York, where he arrived late Wednesday night.
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