Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at joint press conference with Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Khartoum (Sudan), 06 September 2007

Thank you very much, Mr. President and Mr. Foreign Minister.

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

As you have just heard from the Foreign Minister, in the presence of President Bashir, we have had very useful talks here in Khartoum.

You will see that from our joint communiqué. We have taken a big step toward our shared goal of bringing peace to Darfur and long-term development of Sudan.

As you know, my team and I have been in Sudan since Monday. We have been given a very warm welcome and I appreciate the hospitality. I have met many people – Sudanese government leaders, representatives of civil society, humanitarian aid workers and, of course, members of the UN Mission in Sudan. It was a most informative and productive trip.

I undertook this mission in pursuit of peace, security and human rights. We are proceeding on several tracks.

As you know, we are on the verge of deploying one of the largest UN peacekeeping forces ever. This, of course, is the joint UN-AU hybrid force, UNAMID. This unprecedented effort opens a new chapter for Darfurians and all Sudanese people.

In parallel, we are pushing very hard to bring the various parties in the Darfur conflict to the negotiating table. We need a peace to keep. That means an immediate ceasefire and an end to violence.

As we move forward, we must make sure that we do not lose progress we have already made. I refer here to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan that is the corner stone of any lasting peace in Sudan.

That is why I traveled to Juba to meet First Vice President Salva Kiir. This agreement should be fully implemented. I would hope that the leaders of north and south Sudan, working with President Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir, will resolve outstanding issues as soon as possible.

From there, I traveled to El Fasher, the future headquarters of the UN-AU peacekeeping force, where I met with IDPs, civil society leaders, women's groups and tribal leaders. It is essential that their voices and concerns are channeled into the political process.

I also wanted to see, with my own eyes, the very difficult conditions in which our security and humanitarian aid workers are operating so courageously. At the Al Salaam camp, I saw 45,000 displaced persons living in the most appalling conditions. I was shocked and humbled. My heart went out to them. I wanted to give them a sign of hope that their lives might soon get better. I am resolved – completely resolved – that our work here will make this happen.

As I say, we have made significant progress over the past few days. I commend President Bashir for his cooperation, flexibility and commitment. I welcome his readiness to participate in the Darfur peace talks as well as his intention to implement the CPA and the resolution of pending issues. I would also like to thank AU Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare for his joint leadership and partnership in pursuing the cause of peace so ably and strenuously. The African Union Mission in Sudan, AMIS, has carried the burden of the international community. Its personnel have performed nobly under tremendous difficulties.

Many efforts have been made over the past year to prepare the ground for this new beginning. My Special Envoy, Mr. Jan Eliasson, and AU envoy, Dr Salim Salim, have been working intensely with the parties, most recently in the Arusha Consultations, and have concluded that the time is now ripe to launch the renewed peace talks.

After consultations with the parties, Chairperson Konare and I have decided that the negotiations should begin in Libya on 27 October, under the lead of the AU-UN Special Envoys, who will continue to work in close coordination with the countries of the region.

I urge and expect all parties to declare their serious commitment to:

- cease all hostilities immediately.

- achieve a political solution to the Darfur crisis;

- create a secure environment in Darfur conducive to negotiations;

- participate in and commit to the outcome of the negotiation effort;

There must be an end to violence and insecurity, a strengthened ceasefire supported by the incoming Hybrid Operation, as well as an improvement in the humanitarian situation and greater prospects for development and recovery for the people of Darfur.

We are at a new beginning. Let us seize this moment, together.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate your own and Sudan's hospitality ?

Ladies and gentlemen, your questions please.