On Tuesday, 27 March, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Saudi Arabia.
That evening, in Riyadh, he met with His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud at the Royal Palace.
The Secretary-General also met that evening with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and he underlined the crucial timing of the Arab Summit. They discussed Iraq, the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, the National Unity Government in Palestine and the important Arab Peace Initiative, and Darfur.
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General addressed the Summit of the League of Arab States, and he urged the leaders gathered at the Summit to reaffirm their commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative, which he called one of the pillars of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Secretary-General noted the positive signs for that peace process, including the formation of a National Unity Government in Palestine and the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. Solving the conflict, he said, is a moral and strategic necessity. (See Press Release SG/SM/10926.)
The Secretary-General also underscored other priorities, including the need to resolve the situation in Lebanon through dialogue; support for the security and recovery of Iraq, including through the International Compact for Iraq; and the need for peace and an end to strife in Darfur.
The Secretary-General also met with Ali Mohamed Ghedi, Prime Minister of Somalia, and attended a mini-summit on Somalia, chaired by the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, which brought together senior officials of the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the African Union, the League of Arab States and the European Union, as well as the Foreign Minister of Kenya, Raphael Tuju, to discuss the way forward for Somalia.
The Secretary-General also held bilateral meetings, including one with President Omer Hassan al-Bashir of the Sudan, with whom he had a wider meeting with advisers, followed by a tête-à-tête.
Other meetings included His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Emir of Qatar; and Presidents Emile Lahoud of Lebanon and Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall of Mauritania; and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates. His appointments that day also included a meeting with Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Conference, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey.
That evening he also attended a dinner hosted by His Majesty King Abdullah.
The Secretary-General, President al-Bashir of the Sudan, African Union Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, met after dinner to discuss the situation in Darfur, in a meeting chaired by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
In a statement issued afterwards, the participants recognized the need for the United Nations, the African Union and the League of Arab States to work together to seek an early and comprehensive settlement to the conflict and the humanitarian suffering in Darfur. Based on this recognition, they agreed to redouble efforts to bring all parties concerned, including non-signatories and the Government of the Sudan, to the peace process to accelerate political reconciliation.
In parallel with the political process, they also agreed on the shared need to move expeditiously ahead with the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping operation. Reaffirming the commitment of the Government of the Sudan to the Abuja and Addis Agreements, they agreed to hold a technical consultative briefing at the earliest possible date, to finalize the agreement on the heavy support package. The Secretary-General told reporters after the meeting: “I think we made progress where there had been an impasse.”
On Thursday, the last day of his visit in Riyadh, the Secretary-General hosted a breakfast meeting with Manouchehr Motaki, the Foreign Minister of Iran. In the meeting, the two discussed Iran’s nuclear programme and the detention of 15 British marines and sailors in Iran. The Secretary-General urged Iran’s compliance in full with Security Council resolution 1747 (2007) and earlier Council resolutions. On the issue of the British marines and sailors, the Secretary-General expressed his wish to see an early resolution of that problem.
The Secretary-General also held separate bilateral meetings with Presidents Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen and Jalal Talabani of Iraq, and with the Emir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah.
Then, in the afternoon, he attended the closing session of the Arab Summit, before leaving Saudi Arabia for Lebanon.