United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Germany early on Wednesday, 30 May, to attend a Quartet meeting on the Middle East.
Immediately upon arrival in Berlin, the Secretary-General went to the Federal Chancellery for a working lunch with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Just prior to the luncheon, the Secretary-General and the Chancellor spoke briefly to the press. The Secretary-General described the situation on the ground in the Middle East as “extremely volatile”, and he said he would discuss this matter with his Quartet colleagues to facilitate the peace process in the Middle East, and to also prevent reoccurrences of fighting in the field.
He went on to say: “We need a concerted and common cooperation on the part of the international community to help both parties -- particularly Arabs and Israelis, and more importantly between Palestinians and Israelis, so that they can live with a vision of two States living in peace and security.”
During the working luncheon, they had a wide-ranging discussion on a number of issues, including the situation in the Middle East. The Secretary-General briefed the Chancellor on his ongoing intensive diplomatic work dealing with the situation in Darfur. He outlined his efforts to ensure an effective political process, increased humanitarian aid and the deployment of a hybrid United Nations-African Union force in Darfur. The Chancellor also discussed with the Secretary-General the latest preparations for the Group of Eight (G-8) summit, including, in particular, the discussions on climate change.
Later in the day, the Secretary-General joined his Quartet partners for a meeting -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner and, representing the rotating European Union Presidency, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The Quartet meeting was followed by a joint press conference, where the Secretary-General read a communiqué, in which the parties were urged to work positively and constructively in order to build confidence and to create an environment conducive to progress on the political horizon for Palestinian statehood. “Palestinians must know that their State will be viable, and Israelis must know a future State of Palestine will be a source of security, not a threat,” it stated. The Quartet principals agreed to meet in the region in June with the Israelis and Palestinians to review progress and discuss the way forward. (See Press Release SG/2128)
That evening, the Secretary-General had a working dinner with his Quartet partners, hosted by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier.
Mr. Ban returned to New York on Thursday.