United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, travelled on Friday morning to Ankara, Turkey, where they met and had a working lunch with Turkish President Abdullah Gül.
They discussed the ministerial meeting on Iraq that the Secretary-General would attend in Istanbul the following day, the issue of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Cyprus and the Alliance for Civilizations.
The Secretary-General then travelled to Istanbul, where he held bilateral meetings with League of Arab States Secretary-General Amre Moussa and with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
On Saturday, he addressed the foreign ministers gathered at an expanded neighbouring countries of Iraq foreign ministers meeting, hosted by Turkey.
In a speech, he expressed the hope that the effort by Iraq’s neighbours could be quite valuable in building regional confidence and strengthening cooperation. He urged positive, concrete steps as a follow-up to the meeting. (See Press Release SG/SM/11256.)
“The objective of our conference is to capitalize on the progress made to date, consider tangible next steps and establish a mechanism that facilitates communication and helps maintain a coherent direction,” Secretary-General Ban told the gathering. He referred to the exceptionally complex series of overlapping sectarian, political and ethnic challenges facing Iraq, but noted that there was also a political opportunity to transform military-political developments into a basis for broader national reconciliation.
Since the first expanded neighbours meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Secretary-General further said, the United Nations had been given a strengthened mandate in Iraq under Security Council resolution 1770 (2007). He welcomed the establishment of the support mechanism to assist the Government of Iraq, particularly in facilitating national and regional dialogue, as well as in humanitarian and development assistance.
At the conference, the Secretary-General held a series of bilateral meetings, including with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and with Prime Minister Nuri Kamel al-Maliki of Iraq, as well as with the Foreign Ministers of France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Syria, and with the United States Secretary of State. He also met with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa. In addition to Iraq, bilateral discussions focused on related regional issues, the Middle East, Myanmar, Darfur, Lebanon and Somalia.
The Secretary-General returned to New York on Sunday, 4 November.