President of the General Assembly pays official visit to Italy and Germany

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Pope Benedict XVI

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Pope Benedict XVI

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa paid an official visit to Italy and Germany in late February and early March 2007.

Upon her arrival in Rome on Friday the 24th of February, the PGA met with the Pope. The President stressed to the Pope that one of the most important issues on her agenda for the General Assembly was to promote understanding and dialogue among religions, cultures and civilizations. The PGA attaches special significance to this topic not only as President of the Assembly, but also as a Muslim Arab woman.

"In today's world, only dialogue, understanding and tolerance can foster a solid basis for enhancing our ability to tackle the challenges of peace, security, development and the protection of human rights," the PGA stated. The President also informed the Pope that the third thematic debate of her presidency would be on "Civilizations and the challenge for peace". The President sought the help of the Pontiff in making the debate a success. The debate is scheduled for 10-11 May 2007.

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Romano Prodi

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Romano Prodi

In her meetings with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Foreign Minister M. D'Alema, the President of the Republic and the Speakers of the lower and upper chambers of Parliament, the PGA hailed Italy's commitment to the UN and referred to the numerous UN organizations that Italy hosts. Italy’s hosting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reflected its commitment to the question of development. The President thanked the Italian leadership for Italy's participation in the General Assembly's thematic debate on gender equality and the empowerment of women, to be held on 6-7 march. The Sheikha also commended the Italians for their commitment to UNIFIL in Lebanon.

 

 

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and the President of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and the President of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano

On climate change, a subject that is important to Italy, the President sought the views of Mr. D'Alema. She told him she believed the General Assembly should play a leading role in this regard, in view of the growing concerns about the state of the environment.

During her visit to Italy, the President met with the senior officials of UN organizations, addressed Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chamber of Deputies, and paid a visit to the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi.
These statements can be found here:

 

 

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

During her visit to Germany, which included meetings with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Mrs. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, the PGA noted Germany’s role in international affairs, especially in the fields of peace and security, especially while it holds the Presidency of the European Union. She also raised the issue of the reform of the UN Security Council, and briefed the German leaders on the latest developments regarding that process.

In both capitals, the leaders of both Italy and Germany reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and the UN, as well as their commitment to strengthening the role of the General Assembly.

 

 

 

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Mr. Mario Baccini

President of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and Mr. Mario Baccini

The President noted that the Assembly was able to adopt two important conventions this session: the Convention on the Protection and Promotion the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities and the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance.