United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a surprise visit to Kabul on Friday, 29 June, his first to Afghanistan since taking up his post.
He met with President Hamid Karzai and spoke in detail with him on questions of governance, including the fight against illegal drugs and corruption. They agreed that, to address such problems, strong leadership was needed, accompanied by visible action. They also discussed progress on economic development and the need to promote regional cooperation, as well as the paramount importance of education. They also acknowledged the huge importance of the problem regarding civilian casualties, and agreed that steps are needed to ensure that Afghan civilians are safe.
The Secretary-General and President Karzai would be travelling to Rome to attend the 2-3 July Rule of Law Conference on Afghanistan, where they would continue their dialogue.
Earlier, the Secretary General met his special Representative in Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, and with United Nations senior staff working in Afghanistan
The same morning, the Secretary-General met with the Afghan Speaker of Parliament, Yunus Qanooni, and later with General Dan McNeill, the commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) International Security Assistance Force.
The Secretary-General talked with General McNeill about the issue of civilian casualties, which had also been raised separately during his meeting with President Karzai. General McNeill expressed his intention to do all he could to reduce the impact of the conflict on civilians.
On the return trip, during a refuelling stopover at an airport in Georgia, the Secretary-General was met by President Mikheil Saakashvili.