United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began his travels to Europe and Africa early on Wednesday, 24 January, when he arrived in Brussels, where he held a series of meetings with key officials of the European Union, NATO and the Belgian Government.
He first met with High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the Council of the European Union, Javier Solana. Speaking to the press, the Secretary-General said they had discussed the Balkans, Darfur, Somalia and Côte d’Ivoire, as well as issues like climate change and human rights. He said of those topics, “Our positions are on the same page.”
He met with Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, and then with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and later with the College of European Commissioners. At a press encounter afterwards, Mr. Ban noted that on the following day, he and Mr. Barroso would participate in the Paris conference on Lebanon’s reconstruction, for which he urged international cooperation. The Secretary-General added that we need to help the Iraqi Government and people to restore political, and social and economic stability.
He met also with Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy; with the Secretary-General of NATO, Jaap De Hoop Scheffer (see press encounter); with Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt (see press encounter); and with Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht.
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General also met with His Majesty King Albert II at Chateau de Laeken.
The Secretary-General departed Brussels to Paris, France, where he arrived that evening.