United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Washington, D.C., on 26 November, to attend a meeting of the principal members of the Quartet, before travelling onward to Annapolis, Maryland, to participate in the conference there on Middle East peace.
Shortly after arriving in Washington, the Secretary-General met with High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. They discussed the preparations for the Annapolis meeting and exchanged views on how to ensure that an effective follow-up process will be launched.
After that, the Secretary-General met with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and also discussed with him the Annapolis meeting and the next steps.
He then travelled to the State Department to meet with the other Quartet principals: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Javier Solana; Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado; and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner. They were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.
The Quartet, in a statement issued afterward, expressed strong support for the 27 November Annapolis conference. It welcomed the commitment of the Israeli and Palestinians leaders to launch bilateral negotiations towards the establishment of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza and the realization of Israeli-Palestinian peace. (See Press Release SG/2133.)
The Quartet welcomed the parties’ continuing efforts to fulfil their respective commitments under Phase One of the Road Map and urged the international community to provide robust support for all the parties’ efforts.
The Quartet agreed to remain closely involved, and to that end will meet again in December, and looks forward to inviting members of the Arab League Follow-Up Committee to attend.
The Secretary-General met in the evening with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, with whom he reviewed the situation in the Middle East in preparation for the Annapolis conference.
On Tuesday morning, following a working breakfast with Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Secretary-General travelled to Annapolis for the Middle East conference, hosted by the United States Government.
The Secretary-General, at a luncheon with the other participants, delivered remarks pledging the full support of the United Nations for the renewed effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said we must abandon piecemeal approaches and address all aspects of the conflict. Final status negotiations must begin in earnest and address all the issues. He urged support to help the Palestinian Authority to rebuild, reform and perform, and also stressed the need for the situation on the ground to improve, rapidly and visibly. (See Press Release SG/SM/11300.)
While in Annapolis, the Secretary-General met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and they had a productive discussion on the way forward with the Middle East peace process. The President invited the United Nations to play a larger role in that process.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary-General left Annapolis to return to New York.