United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived by air in Damascus from Doha on Tuesday morning, 24 April, for an official visit.
Accompanied by Terje Roed-Larsen, his Special Envoy for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), and Geir Pedersen, his Special Representative for Lebanon, the Secretary-General had a more than two-hour discussion with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moualem, during that flight.
Upon arrival in Damascus, he held a more than hour-long, one-on-one meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
That was followed by a meeting with Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa.
The Secretary-General then attended a luncheon hosted by the Foreign Minister.
A meeting with the United Nations country team preceded a visit to peacekeepers in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), where more than 1,000 troops have been deployed in the Golan Heights since 1974 to maintain the ceasefire there and supervise compliance by Israel and Syria with the Disengagement Agreement.
The Secretary-General paid tribute to their work and noted the extreme temperatures and topological conditions under which they operate.
The Secretary-General held a press encounter before leaving Syria, saying that he had held constructive meetings with the Syrian leaders. He said that President Assad has assured him of cooperation in all matters relating to peace and security in the region.
He said they discussed the situation in Iraq, including Syria’s generous accommodation of millions of Iraqi refugees who have been forced to flee Iraq as a result of the terrible violence in that country, and that President Assad and the Government of Syria reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), and to enhance consultations with the United Nations in this regard.
The Secretary-General left Damascus on Tuesday evening for Frankfurt en route to New York.