United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Washington, D.C., early on Thursday, 14 February.
He then took part in a breakfast reception hosted by Speaker of the House, Nanci Pelosi, and the family of the late Congressman Tom Lantos of California at the United States Capitol Building. After that, he attended a ceremony in honour of the late Congressman in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. The Secretary-General delivered prepared remarks, in which he praised the deceased California Representative for “using his voice to build a better understanding in [the United States] of the United Nations”. Also attending the memorial were, among other guests, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. (See Press Release SG/SM/11420)
Early that afternoon, the Secretary-General met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor. They discussed the situation in Darfur and the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as well as the status of the disputed southern Sudanese region of Abyei.
The Secretary-General later met with the senior staff of United Nations agencies represented in Washington, D.C., before speaking to a gathering of the North American International Model United Nations. In his remarks to an enthusiastic crowd of high-school students, the Secretary-General spoke of his childhood in war-scarred Republic of Korea and his “passionate belief in the mission of the United Nations to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. (See Press Release SG/SM/11421)
He then held a series of meetings with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Representative Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), followed by a larger meeting with a group of senators led by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and including Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Bob Corker (R‑Tennessee), Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Amy Klobuchar (D-Michigan), Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Patty Murray (D‑Washington), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) and Jon Tester (D‑Montana). The meeting focused on United States-United Nations relations and United States funding of United Nations activities. They also discussed Darfur, Myanmar, Kenya, Iran, United Nations reform and climate change.
He ended his work day with a tête-à-tête meeting with Secretary of State Rice.
The next day, 15 February, the Secretary-General began his programme of work with a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš of Slovakia.
After that, he met with United States President George W. Bush at the White House. During the meeting, which lasted an hour and a half, the two discussed United Nations reform, with the Secretary-General briefing President Bush on his efforts to promote transparency and accountability at the United Nations. In that context, the Secretary-General mentioned the Ethics Office and the Procurement Task Force. They also spoke about climate change, with the Secretary-General stressing the need to sustain the momentum to move the Bali road map forward.
As President Bush was leaving for Africa that same day, they also discussed the need for Africa to move forward on the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, as well as the current situation in Darfur and Kenya. Speaking to press from the Oval Office after his meeting with President Bush, the Secretary-General appealed for American support for the Millennium Development Goals. “We are going to focus on the food situation, on agriculture, education, health,” he said. Speaking to President Bush, he expressed the hope that the Millennium Development Goals would be on the agenda of the American President’s meetings with African leaders “on how to achieve these Millennium Development Goals, how to help people overcome abject poverty and sanitation problems, and have access to educational opportunities”. On climate change, he said: “I'm going to build up on this Bali road map -- so that we will be able to achieve this globally accepted framework, replacing the Kyoto Protocol. The United States,” he added, “is the country with the most ability for technology and with financing capacities” to meet the climate change challenges.
The Secretary-General left Washington, D.C., for New York soon after that meeting.