ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN SPAIN, 22 – 23 OCTOBER
Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Madrid yesterday, 22 October, after an overnight flight from Pittsburgh, and was greeted at the airport by the Foreign Minister of Spain, Ana Palacio.
In the afternoon, he met with Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who had just returned from Iraq. They reviewed current United Nations humanitarian programmes in Iraq, the security situation there, and the morale of United Nations staff in and out of the country.
They were then joined by Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The discussion focused on fresh ways to organize the United Nations’ humanitarian and development assistance and on prospects for the International Donors’ Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, which the Secretary-General was to open today.
The Secretary-General, Mr. Egeland and Mr. Malloch Brown then travelled together to a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar.
At a press encounter afterwards, they said their discussions had touched on Iraq, the donors’ Conference, the Middle East and United Nations reform, among other topics.
The Secretary-General announced that he would be joining the Prime Minister at next month’s Ibero-American summit in Bolivia. “A lot has happened in Latin America in the area of democratic reform”, the Secretary-General said, and the United Nations was working closely with governments to strengthen democratic institutions.
On what a successful outcome to the donors’ Conference would be, he replied, “I expect that we will get substantial contributions from governments”, but he added that he expected more pledges to come in the future. “I hope we will be able to raise the amount of money necessary to start the reconstruction of Iraq in a robust and determined manner.”
This morning, the Secretary-General opened the International Donors’ Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, saying, “We gather at a moment of hope for the future of Iraq.” The Iraqi people, he said, “are determined to restore their country to its former leading position. For that, they will need the help of the international community”.
He described the reconstruction needs as “monumental”, saying the challenge now is two-fold: to respond to immediate humanitarian needs, and to get the country’s reconstruction off to a determined start.
Success will depend on three things, he said. First and foremost is security. Second is Iraqi ownership and leadership of the process. And third, Iraq’s legal norms and economic and fiscal framework must have legitimacy.
Reconstruction, he observed, is, therefore, linked to the wider political process. “I know we all look forward to the earliest possible establishment of a sovereign Iraqi Government”, he said. “But a start in reconstruction cannot be deferred until that day; it demands our urgent attention now.”
“The people of Iraq have a hard road ahead of them, filled with both risk and opportunity”, he concluded. “Let us not leave them to travel that road alone.” (For text of the Secretary-General’s statement, see Press Release SG/SM/8959-IK/400.)
In the margins of the Conference, at the Palacio de Congress, the Secretary-General met United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as L. Paul Bremer, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and members of the Iraqi delegation.
The Secretary-General left Madrid for New York early on Thursday afternoon.
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