|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN EGYPT , INCLUDING STOPOVER
IN FRANCE , 6 - 9 NOVEMBER
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Paris on Sunday morning, 6 November, at the start of a two-week trip that would take him through the Middle East to South Asia.
On Monday morning, he met with French President Jacques Chirac. During a meeting which lasted more than one hour, the two men discussed a wide range of issues, including Syria/Lebanon, Iraq, Côte d’Ivoire, United Nations reform and development issues.
Immediately following his meeting with the President, the Secretary-General took off for Egypt, where he would begin a two-day official visit the following morning.
That evening in Cairo, the Secretary-General attended a private dinner hosted by Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa. Also attending the meeting was, among others, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
The following morning, the Secretary-General held a series of official meetings starting with the Foreign Minister and immediately followed by the Secretary-General of the Arab League.
Prior to meeting with their delegations, the Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General met tête-à-tête for about 20 minutes. In the larger meeting, they discussed, among other issues, Lebanon and Syria, the Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Speaking to reporters afterward, the Secretary-General said that he and the Foreign Minister were hopeful that States would be able to agree to a comprehensive convention on terrorism by the end of 2005.
Asked about Syrian cooperation with Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis’ investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, he said that he had spoken to President Bashar al-Assad, who had confirmed to him that Syria would cooperate fully.
The Secretary-General, in response to another question, said he was “extremely encouraged” by the Arab League initiative to bring Iraq’s parties to Egypt for a reconciliation conference, adding, “The need for reconciliation in Iraq is real”.
He then went to the seat of the Arab League for a meeting with Amre Moussa. Following that meeting, he again spoke to reporters and, in response to further questions about the Mehlis investigation, he said that “if Syria cooperated fully and we got to the truth, that should suffice”. He added that “we have no problem” with Syria setting up its own commission to investigate while it cooperates with Mehlis and the Lebanese.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General left Cairo to visit the “ Smart Village”, a technology centre built by the Egyptian Government outside of the capital. There, he visited a number of high-tech projects, accompanied by the Prime Minister, Ahmed Nazif. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister had met earlier to discuss development issues in Africa.
The Secretary-General then went to the American University in Cairo to deliver the first Nadia Younes memorial lecture. He paid tribute to Nadia Younes as “almost a prototype of the modern Egyptian woman”. He said, “we must resolve to make the Middle East a region where all nations, including Israelis and Palestinians, can live side by side in peace and justice”. (See Press Release SG/SM/10204.)
In a separate programme, Nane Annan visited the National Council of Women together with Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt, who presides over the Council. Mrs. Annan also visited a slum-upgrading project designed to promote peace through poverty reduction, community participation and youth engagement, and she met with a group of prominent Egyptian women active in development issues.
On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General had a working breakfast with President Hosni Mubarak. They discussed developments in Syria and Lebanon, Iraq, and the Middle East peace process.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Annan visited a one-room girls’ school in Giza, on Cairo’s outskirts, with representatives from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme and the National Council on Childhood and Motherhood, to highlight the importance of education for girls, as well as boys. She also heard about the Council’s innovative work in protecting street and working children, and tackling drug abuse among young people. She commended the Council for its creative outreach using technology, including a helpline for children at risk and a 24-hour hotline for children with special needs. Mrs. Annan also met young people working on a communication campaign to eliminate prejudice and influence social change on a range of sensitive issues, including female genital mutilation, HIV/AIDS, drug use and disabilities, as well as to empower girls.
The Secretary-General and his delegation then left Cairo for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
* *** *For information media • not an official record