United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Paris on Monday, 25 June.
That same day, he attended the High-level Meeting of the Expanded Contact Group on Darfur, organized by the French Government to discuss the way forward in addressing the situation in Darfur. With heads of other delegations, the Secretary-General met first with President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysée Palace, before a working luncheon hosted by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. A second working session was held in the afternoon.
The participants at the Paris conference reconfirmed the central role of the United Nations in the political, security and humanitarian domains in Darfur, as well as its role in the future development of the Sudanese region. The Secretary-General called for support for the African Union-United Nations hybrid force, both financially and politically.
At a joint press conference later, the Secretary-General said the meeting had helped generate additional momentum and had confirmed the concrete steps that key international stakeholders should take to move cohesively towards the common objective of ending the suffering of the people of Darfur. “The people of Darfur have waited too long, and now it is time to act,” he said.
As for the United Nations, the Secretary-General said it is maintaining its focus on four distinct tracks: the political process; peacekeeping; humanitarian assistance; and reconstruction and development in Darfur. During the press conference, he spoke of “slow but credible and considerable progress” in recent months to resolve the crisis.
On the sidelines of the conference, he met with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The Secretary-General also had a brief meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, at the Prime Minister’s request. They discussed the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the killing of six UNIFIL soldiers on 24 June, and also talked about the special tribunal for Lebanon.
Before he left Paris on Monday evening, the Secretary-General also met again with President Sarkozy. They discussed recent developments in Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Middle East and Kosovo, as well as France-United Nations relations.