19 May 2012 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met today with the Foreign Minister of France, Laurent Fabius, for talks which covered a range of issues on the global agenda.
During their meeting, held in New York, they discussed the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Africa's Sahel region, according to information provided by Mr. Ban's spokesperson.
The spokesperson added that the pair also exchanged views on the Middle East Peace Process and on the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next month.
In Syria, a protest movement – similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa – has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands since it began in March 2011. It led to the Security Council authorizing the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), with up to 300 unarmed military observers, and charged with monitoring the cessation of violence and supporting the full implementation of a peace plan backed by the UN and the League of Arab States.
The northern part of Mali has witnessed resumed clashes between Government forces and Tuareg rebels since January, leading to the mass displacement of civilians, with the majority of those uprooted seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. It is also among several countries in Africa's Sahel region that are suffering from a food crisis resulting from prolonged drought.
Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau – a country with a history of coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 – seized power on 12 April. Calls by the international community for the return to civilian rule and the restoration of constitutional order have so far gone unheeded. On Friday, the Security Council imposed a travel ban against five military officers involved in the coup.
On Sunday, the Secretary-General will depart New York for Chicago to attend the 25th Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
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