Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press encounter prior to his meeting with US Secretary of State Kerry

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 25 July 2013

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Secretary Kerry – welcome to the United Nations. I would like to highly commend and appreciate the strong leadership of Secretary Kerry for global peace, security, development and human rights. Today, we have a lot to cover; therefore, I will be very brief on what we are going to discuss.

First of all, of course, we will be discussing the appalling situation in Syria. The conflict is now continuing for almost two and a half years. More than 100,000 people have been killed. Millions of people have either been displaced or become refugees in neighbouring countries. We have to bring this to an end.

Military and violent actions must be stopped by both parties, and it is thus imperative to have a peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible, as was initiated by Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov. Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi and I will spare no effort to convene this meeting as soon as possible.

At the same time, as you may know, the head of the chemical weapons investigation team, Dr. [Ake] Sellström, and my High Representative for Disarmament, Angela Kane, have just visited Syria [and] are meeting senior officials of the Syrian Government to discuss the modalities of the investigation. I will get the report, since they are coming out of Syria now; we will get the report soon.

On the Middle East, I would like to highly commend and appreciate Secretary Kerry’s leadership and consistent and principled engagement to revive the peace process for a two-State solution. Hard negotiations will lie ahead, but only the parties can make decisions, hard decisions. I strongly urge the leaders of Palestine and Israel to seize this opportunity and respond positively and courageously, so that the two-State solution can be realized as soon as possible.

With Secretary Kerry and members of the Security Council today, we will discuss the horrendous suffering now in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and in the region. It is imperative that we support the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation in the DRC and in the Great Lakes region.

In that regard, I welcome the convening of this Security Council meeting on the situation in the DRC, chaired by Secretary Kerry, and I also welcome the appointment of US Government Special Envoy, Senator Russ Feingold. I hope that you will very closely coordinate with my Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, and my Special Representative, Martin Kobler, who will work very closely with you and other parties.

Beyond all these regional conflicts, Secretary Kerry, the US Government and President [Barack] Obama have been helping the United Nations and the international community to combat climate change and to define and establish sustainable development goals and a sustainable development agenda. These are the key to the long-term prosperity of this world and I count on the continuing leadership and engagement and support of Secretary Kerry and President Obama and the US Government. The US Government’s strong leadership is crucial in addressing all regional and global issues for humanity.

Again, Mr. Secretary, welcome to the United Nations, and I look forward to having a continuing partnership and the strong support and engagement of the US Government.

Thank you very much.