ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WASHINGTON, DC, 14 JULY
Secretary-General Kofi Annan left New York for Washington early in the morning of Monday, 14 July.
Shortly after arriving in Washington, he met at the State Department with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Following that meeting, he spoke briefly to reporters and said that he hoped that the discussions in Washington would be helpful to the Liberian process and that, “in the not-too-distant future, the President would take a decision which I hope will bring happiness to lots of people in the region”.
He was also asked about a document that had claimed that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from Niger, and he noted that the issue had been discussed in the Security Council and that International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei had told the Council that the document was fraudulent, after which the Council dropped the matter.
The Secretary-General in the morning also held a meeting with leaders of the United States Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Following that meeting, he told reporters that an Iraq that was stable and at peace with its neighbours was in the interests of Iraqis and of neighbouring countries.
Discussions at lunch with Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, focussed primarily on HIV/AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
In the early afternoon, the Secretary-General met with President George W. Bush. Also in attendance were Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and the President’s Chief of Staff, Andrew Card.
The President and Secretary-General spoke to the press afterwards, and noted their discussions on Liberia and Iraq, among other issues. The Secretary-General said, on Iraq, that the United Nations was encouraged to see the formation of a Governing Council on Sunday. Regardless of the differences that existed before the Iraq war, he said, the challenge now “is to stabilize Iraq, to help Iraq to become a peaceful, stable and prosperous State. And I think that everyone needs to help.”
On Liberia, he said, "I'm satisfied with the discussions we've had and the approach the US Government is taking", adding that the United Nations and United States had largely agreed to a general approach on the Liberian issue.
He noted that the understanding emerging is for the Economic Community of West African States to send in a vanguard of about 1,000 to 1,500 troops, after which, he believed, President Charles Taylor would leave Liberia. Then, he said, the force would be strengthened, hopefully with United States participation, and eventually United Nations blue helmets would go in to stabilize the situation.
Mr. Annan then met with Frank R. Wolf, Chairman of the Subcommittee for United Nations Dues and Peacekeeping, whom the Secretary-General thanked for his anti-hunger efforts. They discussed relief for the Horn of Africa, amongst other matters.
At a meeting with members of the House Committee on International Relations, including Chairman Henry Hyde, the subjects discussed included Liberia, HIV/AIDS, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq and terrorism.
On Liberia, the Secretary-General briefed the Congressmen on his meetings with West African heads of State in Maputo the previous week, at which plans were firmed up for a West African multinational force for Liberia. Congressman Royce expressed concern that President Charles Taylor, by accepting sanctuary in Nigeria, not escape his indictment by the Sierra Leone Special Court. The Secretary-General replied that this is an illustration of the tension that sometimes arises between peace and justice, but assured the Congressman that the law and the Court would follow its course.
After that meeting, the Secretary-General told the press that he believed that both United States and United Nations involvement would be necessary in Liberia, with United Nations peacekeepers deployed for the longer-term effort.
He also met one-on-one with Senator Ted Kennedy, and afterward highlighted to the press the importance of the fight against HIV/AIDS, saying, “I know the issue is before the Senate and I think what they do is going to have an impact on millions of lives.”
The Secretary-General returned to New York that evening.
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