Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press conference [as prepared for delivery]

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Baghdad (Iraq), 06 December 2012

Assalamo Alaykom,
Good afternoon,

I am pleased to be back in Baghdad for the fourth time. My last visit was in March when Iraq hosted the League of Arab States Summit. That Summit showed Iraq’s steady progress toward regaining its rightful place in the region, the Arab world and the broader international community.

This morning, I had productive meetings with President Talabani, Prime Minister Al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Zebari. I look forward to meeting this afternoon with the Speaker of the Council of Representatives. I will also have the honour of addressing the Heads of Political blocs and elected members of the Council or Representatives.

We have discussed a wide range of issues, particularly relations between Iraq and Kuwait. We also addressed relations between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. And we reviewed the situation in Syria – which we are all deeply concerned about.

Iraq-Kuwait relations have improved much since March. I believe that a historic opportunity is at hand to fully normalize relations between the two States.

It is time for both countries to put the past behind and usher in a new era of cooperation. I strongly support the efforts of Prime Minister al-Maliki to fulfil without further delay Iraq’s outstanding Chapter VII obligations – especially the maintenance of the boundary and the compensation of the farmers.

I have come here from Kuwait. In my meetings with both Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Emir of Kuwait, I appealed to their statesmanship and asked that they redouble their efforts. This will greatly benefit the people of both countries in the long-term.

In my meetings with Iraqi officials, we also discussed the political situation here. The ongoing impasse between political blocs is a disservice to the people of Iraq, who look to their leaders to deliver a better future.

I also expressed hope that divergences over disputed territories in Northern Iraq can be resolved. There is no alternative to peaceful coexistence within a united federal Iraq. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq stands ready to help reach this goal.

We discussed the situation in Syria and its impact on Iraq. I am particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation. I thank Iraq for its generosity and hospitality towards Syrian refugees. I urge the Government to continue to keep the borders open to enable Syrian refugees and Iraqi returnees to seek safety in Iraq.

UNAMI, led by my Special Representative, Martin Kobler, will remain steadfast in supporting the people and Government of Iraq in securing peace, stability and prosperity.

Thank you.