United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived in Berlin from Madrid on Thursday morning, 7 June.
The Secretary-General met that day with a number of the leaders who attended the outreach session of the Group of Eight (G-8) summit scheduled to take place the following day in Heiligendamm, Germany.
He met separately with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, South African President Thabo Mbeki, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa to discuss the issues to be addressed at the G-8 summit and outreach session. To all the leaders he met, he emphasized that the technology and resources needed to deal with climate change were available, but that it was essential that the necessary political will be galvanized.
The Secretary-General also spoke with the Indian Prime Minister about the situations in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal. With the South African President, he discussed Darfur and the joint United Nations-African Union proposal sent to President Omer al-Bashir of the Sudan. They also discussed Somalia, Kosovo and the post-election challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Secretary-General also discussed the situation in Haiti and reforms of the Security Council with the Brazilian President, and issues of human rights and the Human Rights Council with Mexico’s President.
He also met on Thursday with the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Alpha Oumar Konaré. They discussed Darfur and the joint United Nations-African Union operation in the region, the need for immediate assistance to the African Union forces already on the ground, the political negotiations initiated by their Envoys, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, and the humanitarian dimensions of the conflict.
That evening, Mr. Ban discussed the recent elections in Nigeria and the situation in the Niger Delta with the new President of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’Adua, before attending a dinner hosted by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
In Heiligendamm on Friday, the Secretary-General spoke to reporters at a press conference. He told them that it is only fitting that climate change dominated the agenda, calling it “a defining issue of our era”.
He said he wholeheartedly welcomed that the G-8 leaders agreed on strong and early action to combat climate change, and that the United Nations is the forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. But, he added: “While this is an important step, it is only a first step, a beginning, not an end.” The Secretary-General informed the G-8 leaders of his intention to convene a high-level meeting on climate change on 24 September, the day before the opening of the General Assembly’s annual debate.
The Secretary-General said that this year marks the midpoint of our work to realize the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. He warned: “We have far to go indeed, especially in Africa.” This is why, he said, he has offered to chair a new MDG Africa Steering Group of all the major players to help refocus efforts to achieve the Goals in Africa.
In the margins of the summit meeting in Heiligendamm, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Romano Prodi of Italy, with whom he discussed Afghanistan, Lebanon and the special tribunal, Somalia, Ethiopia-Eritrea; and with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan he spoke on climate change, Security Council reform, Darfur and the six-party talks on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Secretary-General departed to New York on Saturday, 9 June.