ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN
, 25-28 APRIL INDIA
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, accompanied by his wife Nane, arrived in
late on Monday, 25 April, from New Delhi , where he had attended the Asian-African Summit. Jakarta, Indonesia
He was met at the airport by Natwar Singh, Minister of External Affairs of India, and the two made brief statements at a joint press encounter. Setting the stage for his two-day visit, the Secretary-General said that during his stay, he would have the chance to discuss issues of interest, “but the UN reform in particular because we believe that there cannot be security without development, and there cannot be development without security, and we will have neither unless we respect human rights”.
On Tuesday, the Secretary-General met with UN officials and staff working in
during which discussions focused on UN reconstruction assistance for tsunami victims and HIV/AIDS in New Delhi . India
In a separate programme on Tuesday, Mrs. Annan and First Lady Gursharan Kaur took part in the launch of a United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) exhibition, Eye Reveal, with photographs and writings from 250
university and college students, based on their experiences interviewing women survivors of violence and exploring issues of masculinity and gender. Delhi
Mrs. Annan said she was very encouraged to understand the deep impact their participation had on the students. “Some said it changed the way they think and feel, enriching and educating them at a personal level. Some even wanted to continue working on the issue as a career option”, she said.
The Secretary-General began the day on Wednesday with a visit to the Rajghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, where he and Mrs. Annan laid a wreath and then offered handfuls of rose petals, considered a sign of respect, at the flower-strewn cremation site.
His first meeting was with the Minister of External Affairs Singh at the historic Hyderabad House. He then met with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the President’s residence. Following a luncheon hosted by the External Affairs Minister, he met with L.K. Advani, leader of the opposition, and then with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He also met with Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the Indian National Congress Party.
The topics discussed during his meeting with the top Indian officials ranged from UN reform to the regional security situation in
’s neighbourhood, with particular emphasis on relations between India and India , and Pakistan and India , as well as the situation in China . Also discussed were post-tsunami relief and reconstruction efforts and possibilities for cooperation between India and the United Nations in disaster preparedness and response, peacekeeping, terrorism, human rights, the situation in the Middle East, including Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Lebanon. Nepal
Following a meeting with the Minister of Health, Anbumani Ramadoss, the Secretary-General chaired a round table on HIV/AIDS -- the main focus being how to counter the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV in India.
Saying that HIV/AIDS is a personal priority of his, the Secretary-General asked the participants, who included people living with HIV, to describe what they would like to see people in the community do differently to ensure an environment free of stigma, and innovative experiences under way to tackle the problem. He also asked about awareness-raising, prevention and care from their perspective. Mrs. Annan, who also took part in the round table, drew attention to the need to treat with dignity people living with AIDS, especially women.
When it comes to AIDS, the Secretary-General said, “silence is death” and urged the participants to speak up as a means to fight the stigma associated with HIV/AIDs in the country.
In the evening, he and Mrs. Annan attended a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister.
In a separate programme that day, Mrs. Annan had visited a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-supported training and sensitization programme for
police personnel on HIV/AIDS issues, with particular focus on their dealings with marginalized and vulnerable people. To date, 12,000 police men and women have received training on the basics of HIV (transmission, prevention, testing, treatment, care and support, stigma and discrimination), as well as myths and misconceptions, gender and rights, legal and ethical issues, and living with HIV infected and affected people. Mrs. Annan commended the police for their leadership in the drive to create an AIDS-free Delhi , describing them as “torchbearers” in their outreach efforts with colleagues, non-governmental organizations, schools and the community at large. India
Mrs. Annan also met with a group of Indian women activists brought together by UNIFEM to discuss progress on issues facing women such as violence, trafficking, HIV/AIDS, legislative issues, political participation and economic development.
On Thursday morning, following an interview with a popular Indian television programme, “Walk the Talk”, the Secretary-General delivered a public address entitled, “In Larger Freedom: the changing role of the United Nations” at the
. India International Center
In the lecture, he rebutted the suggestion that development, and the concerns of the developing world, did not receive much attention in his “In Larger Freedom” report. On the contrary, he said, the report contains important proposals on trade and debt relief, as well as the Secretary-General’s call on all developed countries to reach a target for increased development aid of 70 cents out of every $100 of gross national income.
The Secretary-General said that it would be preferable for Member States to agree on Security Council reform by consensus, but inability to reach consensus should not become an excuse for postponing action. (See press release SG/SM/9844.)
The Secretary-General also participated in an exchange of questions and answers after his lecture, and then gave a press conference.
In his opening remarks at the press conference, the Secretary-General said it was heart-warming to be in India “when peace is gradually breaking out in the region with India and Pakistan making steady and truly remarkable progress in their bilateral dialogue, and India and China forging a strategic partnership that has the potential not only to uplift the region but also to have a salutary effect on huge parts of the world”.
Asked about the situation in
, the Secretary-General said that he had met the King of Nepal recently in Nepal . The Secretary-General had told the King that he wanted to see a return to constitutional rule as soon as possible. Jakarta
Asked about what the United Nations could do in
, the Secretary-General said the Organization was already very active on the ground. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, the United Nations had just decided to send a human rights team to monitor what was going on on the ground. He added that, if at any future date, it became necessary for the United Nations to do more, and that was agreed with the Government and others, obviously the United Nations would be prepared to do that. Nepal
The Secretary-General also said the United Nations was in touch with neighbours and other friends of
, including the Government of India. In addition to Nepal , the Secretary-General answered questions on a range of issues -- from Security Council reform to Nepal , Myanmar , India-Pakistan, Lebanon , HIV/AIDS, and an Indian initiative to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Iran
After the press conference, the Secretary-General left
to return to New Delhi . New York
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